New Down Syndrome test less invasive for pregnant women

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 accurancy rate, it is also very expensive and isn't accesible to all pregnant women.

Simple blood test for Down Syndrome costs up to $1,400

New, simple test analyzes fetal DNA in a pregnant woman's blood to detect Down syndrome 2:49

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."

With files from Kas Roussy

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.