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The Sciences

Prenatal Down syndrome tests are a go (at some point)

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAugust 10, 2009 10:25 PM

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Last spring there was a false alarm about a noninvasive form of prenatal testing, in particular for Down syndrome. But if The Guardian is right then the British NHS is pushing forward on a more general program in this direction:

The early signs are so promising that the professor leading the programme says that the risk-free test could be the standard method of detecting babies with some genetic conditions inherited from the father within two to three years and those with Down's syndrome within five - and in the process save the lives of an estimated 265 mostly normal babies a year.

The life-saving part is that there would be far less need for amniocentesis, which is invasive and results in a risk of miscarriage. The cost vs. benefit of prenatal screening would presumably shift. Though British newspapers are inclined toward sensationalism and inaccuracy, this is probably grounded in something real. H/T:Yglesias.

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