British obstetricians announced at a conference last week that they are close to developing a prenatal test with no attendant risk of miscarriage. The team of doctors from Imperial College, London and Queen Charlotte's Hospital are currently working to perfect a procedure that would allow the detection of genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus from a blood test taken by the mother. The first clinical trial is due to start in the summer with the results due next year. Current prenatal tests such as amniocentisis involves the insertion of a needle into the womb to take a sample of amniotic fluid for analysis - but the procedure carries a small risk (between 0.5 and 2 percent) of miscarriage. Doctors also hope the new procedure will allow testing within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Sources and References
Safe test that tells if unborn baby is healthy
Doctors close to safer test for foetal defects