Amniocentesis is a procedure that is carried out for those pregnancies where it is suspected that the fetus could have chromosomal abnormalities or if the mother’s age is advance, and there are other potential genetic problems.
It involves extracting amniotic fluid from the mother’s uterus to check for abnormal cells of the fetus – this can be a risky and painful process, and waiting for the results of the test can be traumatic for the expectant mother. Amniocentesis also carries the slight risk of causing a miscarriage.
Now however a blood test to detect fetal abnormalities could mean an end to the pain and trauma of amniocentesis.
The blood test will be able to detect chromosomal abnormalities that greatly increase the chance of a child being born with certain birth defects.
Amniocentesis cannot be undergone until 15 weeks of gestation; however it will be possible for this blood test to be administered as early as 12 weeks, which offers women some option as to whether or not to continue with a pregnancy.
Another test called chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can be conducted as early as ten weeks but this has an even greater chance of causing a miscarriage, so this new blood test will be a welcome procedure.