World’s first blood test for accurate prenatal testing
Scientists have developed a new non-invasive, accurate and low risk blood test that can detect foetal blood group, sex and genetic conditions in unborn babies.
The DNA test costs pence and is non-invasive – as opposed to the traditional amniocentesis test that involves a needle and carries a minor (1 per cent) risk of miscarriage, researchers said.
The new test can be carried out on mothers at risk of X-linked genetic recessive diseases including haemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy and mothers at risk of haemolytic disease of the new-born.
It can use the blood that is taken from the mother when she has her first appointment with her general practitioner (GP) or midwife at the early stages of pregnancy, negating the need for multiple appointments and making best use of resources.
"Although foetal blood grouping and sexing using maternal blood has been done for over a decade, this research proves a much more accurate and sensitive method of detecting foetal DNA," said lead corresponding author Neil Avent, from Plymouth University School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences.
"The technique represents a comparatively low-risk method for the early identification of a number of conditions, which in turn will aid earlier diagnosis and possible therapies to the potential benefit of both mother and child," he said.
"Doing a test is an option for people continuing with a pregnancy as they have the right to know what is ahead," said Ross Welch, a consultant in fetomaternal medicine at Plymouth Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust.
"It is of course correct that the test should not only be effective but also delivered at low risk to the health of both mother and child," he said