Simple Blood Test Could Examine Fetus

ROME, June 29 (UPI) — A simple non-invasive blood test could replace invasive diagnostic techniques in early pregnancy, Dutch researchers say.

Researchers at the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands say they are developing a simple blood test capable of accurately detecting chromosomal abnormalities in a developing fetus responsible for Down syndrome and other conditions, a university release said Tuesday.

Currently, the only way to make such determinations is through amniocentesis or other invasive techniques that carry the risk of triggering miscarriages, the release said.

Dr. Suzanna Frints, a clinical geneticist at Maastricht, says molecular genetic probes can detect DNA belonging to the fetus in blood samples taken from a pregnant woman.

The simple blood test could replace current diagnostic procedures, said Frints, who is scheduled to address the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome Tuesday.

“It is inexpensive compared to the costs of invasive prenatal diagnosis, and could easily be implemented at low cost, between 30-150 Euros ($35-$180) per kit per person, with a small apparatus in every hospital in the world,” Frints said. “Blood samples can be taken during routine antenatal visits.”

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