A new, simple blood test to predict Down Syndrome could help reduce the number of women undergoing amniocentesis.
While it is less invasive, with a near perfect accuracy rate, it is also very expensive — costing up to $1,400 — and isn't accessible to all pregnant women.
Current prenatal blood tests analyze for proteins and other markers but if they aren't conclusive, an ultrasound is also performed. If those tests are positive, an amniocentesis is offered.
That means a needle is inserted in the mother's womb to extract DNA. The procedure carries a small risk of miscarriage.
The new DNA test, called non-invasive prenatal testing, is reportedly safer. A blood test takes the genetic material from the fetus, circulating in the mother's blood, and searches for genes.
Clinical tests suggest it's 99 per cent accurate.
However, the new test is not yet approved by Health Canada and is not covered by provincial health-care plans.
Ori Nevo, an obstetrician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, gives the test high marks.
"I definitely recommend to do the test because there's no risk and it's very specific and very accurate and can give us more information than the traditional test."