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Non-invasive test to detect Down Syndrome in foetuses now available

Published on May 4, 2014 1:26 PM
A new non-invasive test to screen foetuses for Down Syndrome which eliminates the risk of miscarriages, called the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test, is now available in Singapore. -- ST FILE PHOTO: WONG MAYEE

A new non-invasive test to screen foetuses for Down Syndrome is now available in Singapore.

Previously, doctors had to insert a needle into the mother and draw fluids surrounding the baby to test them for indicators of Down Syndrome. This process, called amniocentesis, carries "a small risk of miscarriage".

A new test, called the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) eliminates that risk. Doctors just need to test a sample of the mother's blood for signs of Down Syndrome in the foetus.

Doctors, attending an international medical conference in Singapore on Sunday, however caution that results from the new test must be interpreted with caution. NIPT detects Down Syndrome about 99.5 per cent of the time, but only one in five cases which test positive actually turn out to be real cases, noted adjunct professor George Yeo, chief of obstetrics and gynaecology at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH). Women still need to go for amniocentesis to determine if indeed their baby has Down Syndrome.

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