Women are confident
in and value a new non-invasive prenatal test for Down's syndrome that is being trialled across a number of maternity clinics in the
UK, a study reports.
Currently, at around 12
weeks, all pregnant women are offered routine Down's syndrome screening which estimates the risk of the baby being
born with the condition. Women at high risk are offered invasive testing, where a needle is inserted into the abdomen, but
this procedure carries a small risk of miscarriage.
A new non-invasive maternal blood test
is being trialled in the UK for medium- and high-risk women, which is safer and has detection rates of around 99 percent.
'The test allows women to have that extra reassurance in
pregnancy if their results are negative. If the test is positive, it means they
can make an informed choice about
what to do next; further testing is required to verify the results, and the
information may be valuable as it enables them to choose to either prepare for the birth of an affected child
or terminate the pregnancy', said Dr Celine Lewis from University College London's Institute of Child Health, who led the
study looking at women's views and experiences of this test and
presented the research at the annual conference of the British Society for Genetic Medicine.
The team has so far surveyed more than 400 women and interviewed 70. The vast majority have been overwhelmingly positive about a new test that is safe, highly accurate and can be conducted early in pregnancy.
The research found that while most women found to be high
risk following Down's syndrome screening opted for non-invasive prenatal testing,
around ten percent opted for invasive
testing. The research suggests one of the main reasons for this is because the
results currently take seven to ten working days.
Most invasive test results can be turned around in three working days.
'For some people, the most important thing is getting the results quickly, but for
others it's more important not to put
the pregnancy at risk, so they are willing to wait longer for a result from
a safer test', said Dr Lewis.
Generally, women were pleased to have been offered the
opportunity to have the non-invasive test, the researchers reported. 'People
who'd had previous pregnancies said
they felt a lot more reassured this time
around because of the blood test result', said Dr Lewis.
The test is being trialled at eight antenatal clinics in the UK. The study is still ongoing, and the
research will be completed by mid-2015.
Dr Celine Lewis
was talking about her work prior to her talk 'Offering NIPT for Down syndrome in a National Health
Service Clinical Setting - Experience of Patients in the UK' on Monday 22 September 2014 at the British Society for Genetic Medicine's
annual conference, held at the Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre.