One in 800 children is born with three Chromosome 21’s instead of two resulting in what is commonly know as Down Syndrome, or more technically, Trisomy 21.
It usually leads to the sufferer having a lower than average IQ and therefore intellectual disability. It occurs all over the world in all races.
Now a simple blood test for mothers is available in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
The new procedure, developed by a German company, could replace amniocentesis, an invasive procedure that puts the foetus at risk. It involves the extraction of amniotic fluid from the womb with a syringe.
“The main advantage is that it is a non-invasive test, a test that’s done simply by taking the mother’s blood without any risk to the foetus”, says Claudia Canonica, a researcher at the University of Zurich.
Another important difference is that the test can be performed before the 12th week of pregnancy, whereas amniocentesis is performed in the 16th week. This time saving can be important for parents making a decision on whether to have the pregnancy terminated or not.
The new test has come about as a result of a technological breakthrough. The moral dilemma for parents may still be there but at least detecting whether or not Down syndrome is present could now be less dangerous to the unborn child and mother.