A New Non-Invasive Test for Down Syndrome? Sign Us Up

Currently, the only way to find out for sure if your fetus has Down syndrome is to undergo amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) -- both are invasive procedures that involve a big needle in the abdomen, lots of mom-to-be nerves and an increased risk of miscarriage.

But new research suggests that an accurate, non-invasive test may be around the corner. Scientists have learned that fetal DNA is shed in the maternal bloodstream, and have found a way to separate the fetal DNA from the mother’s DNA and accurately analyze the fetal DNA for evidence of Down syndrome with just a simple blood test.

In a just-published study in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers correctly diagnosed 14 cases of Down syndrome and 26 typically-developing fetuses by the 14th week of pregnancy -- with 100% accuracy. The researchers caution that more research is needed; other researchers will need to verify their findings on larger study populations. According to the Associated Press, at least one company hopes to offer a commercial test that examines fetal DNA by the end of the year.

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