Predicting Down Syndrome: A Cheap Simple Blood Test

blood-test

blood-testAn inexpensive and simple blood test to detect Down syndrome and other birth disorders is currently under research and development. This test could provide an improved alternative to current prenatal tests. (http://www.abilitypath.org/articles/article/health-topics/down-syndrome/prenatal-screening-tests-down-syndrome.html) Current tests for Down syndrome provide parents accurate results; however, they are invasive, painful and raise the risk of miscarriages.

The new test takes a blood sample from a pregnant woman and analyzes the DNA of the fetus from this blood sample. It is predicted to cost as little as forty dollars per test.

“When we succeed in developing the procedure for use in maternal blood we will be able to offer a safe, cheap, fast, reliable and accurate non-invasive test, which will be of immediate benefit to pregnant women, young and old, all over the world.” Dr Suzanna Frints, of Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, who carried out the research stated this week.

The first study conducted on this blood test had an 80 percent positive response. Dr. Frints hopes to continue her research until she can reach 100 percent accuracy. Researchers hope to have the test available within the next four years. Recommendations on who should take the test in the US will be released by OB/GYN’s when the test is accepted for use in this country.

This same testing method could be used to detect and screen for other abnormalities in an unborn child’s DNA such as Edwards syndrome, Pataus syndrome, muscular dystrophy and hemophilia.

There are opposing views on this new test with advocacy groups and some professionals stating this test will lead to a higher number of abortions versus women groups and early intervention specialists that believe in providing accurate information about the disorder and about the pregnancy to the mother.
“If it might more conclusively prevent false positives, it might have some benefit, but it will also likely lead to more abortions of children with disabilities,” stated Mailee Smith, staff counsel for Americans United for Life.

Cassy Christianson, OTR/L
(http://www.abilitypath.org/meet-our-experts/christianson-cassy.html), an AP expert that has worked with a large number of infants and children with Down syndrome and their families stated, “families have shared their feelings about prenatal genetic testing and I have often heard that knowing in advance that they would have a child with Down syndrome wouldn’t have changed the course of their pregnancy but they would have benefited from having time to learn more about possible medical needs, resources and connecting with other families of children with Down syndrome.”

Sources:
Fox News.com, “Cheap Blood Test Could Detect Disorders in Fetus”, June 30, 2010
Tech Jackal, “Blood test for Down’s syndrome has surprisingly accurate results”, July 1, 2010
Telegraph.co.uk, “Blood test for Down’s syndrome”, July 2, 2010

Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder and it occurs in approximately 1 in 800 babies born in the U.S. It can be an emotional and overwhelming time when your child is diagnosed with Down syndrome. AbilityPath.org is a great resource for parents looking for information and wanting to connect with professionals and other parents.


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