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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.