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Pregnant women to be offered safer Down's syndrome test

The new test is expected to be rolled out in Wales next year Credit: PA

Women in Wales are to be offered safer testing during pregnancy, that will reduce the risk of miscarriage during the test process, the Welsh Government has announced.

The new non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) is expected to save one to two babies from miscarriage each year.

It is also anticipated that far fewer women will need invasive tests including amniocentesis, which carry a 1% chance of miscarriage and around a one in 1,000 risk of serious infection.

Currently all expectant mothers in Wales are offered a combined blood and ultrasound test in the first three months of pregnancy to check for abnormalities.

Those who show a high chance of their baby developing genetic conditions such as Down's, Edwards' and Patau's syndromes are offered the invasive tests, which often involve taking a sample from the womb.

NIPT, a blood sample analysed in a laboratory, which is expected to be rolled out in Wales next year, will be offered as an additional option to these invasive tests and for women who receive a negative result.

Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said:

A negative NIPT result will offer pregnant women the reassurance they need, without the need for a further invasive diagnostic test - reducing the unnecessary harm from miscarriage that can be caused through the use of these tests.

– Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans

It was announced last October that women in England would be offered NIPT.