Pregnant women in Wales are to become the first in the UK to receive a non-invasive test for Down’s syndrome.
The NHS blood test, available from Monday, is said to be safer and more accurate than existing screenings for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes.
It will be offered to women with a higher chance of identifying the syndromes in the first three months of pregnancy.
But some people have raised concerns it could lead to more terminations.
The Non-invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) test will be offered as an alternative to the invasive amniocentesis test currently available, which carries a small risk of miscarriage.
The Welsh Government said it was expected the introduction of the new test would reduce this risk, as fewer invasive tests would be needed.
The new test will not offer a complete diagnosis, as only the invasive test can confirm the syndrome, but aims to better inform women of the risks of having a child with the genetic disorder.
Women who are given a positive NIPT test would not be able to opt for a termination based on that result alone.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “Our antenatal screening programme plays an important role in providing expectant mothers with the information and support they need throughout their pregnancy.
“I’m pleased Wales is leading the way by offering NIPT as part of our programme.”
Helen Rogers, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for Wales, welcomed the test.
She added: “Screening is always an individual choice for women and their partners and midwives in Wales have undergone additional training so they can share clear information on this non-invasive test with women which will support them in their decision making and to make the right choice for them.”
Read more at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-43919301