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A BLOOD test to check [...].

A BLOOD test to check for Down's syndrome could almost eliminate the need for invasive procedures, new research suggests.

The highly-accurate test looks at the genetic material DNA to predict whether a woman is carrying a baby with the syndrome.

People with Down's have three copies of chromosome number 21, rather than the usual two.

Current testing on the NHS combines a blood test to check levels of some proteins and hormones with a scan to measure the space between the spine and the nape of a baby's neck.

Babies with Down's syndrome tend to have more fluid collecting in the neck than those developing normally.

The "false positive" rate of these tests is about 5%, meaning 5% will be told they're carrying a Down's baby when they aren't.

All of these pregnant women are then offered the option of further, invasive tests including amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which have about a 1% risk of miscarriage.

If these women were given the DNA blood test instead, almost all invasive procedures could be avoided, according to experts from Hong Kong, writing in the British Medical Journal. They wrote: "If we took into consideration the results of the sequencing test, trisomy 21 (Down's) could be ruled out in 98% of those pregnancies.

"This would leave just 0.1% of all pregnant women needing referrals for amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2011
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