New Down syndrome test could improve detection and reduce invasive procedures

Scientists at Perth's Curtin University have found the new test could increase detection rates and significantly reduce the need for invasive diagnostic procedures, which can cause miscarriages.

The study reviewed 32,478 single baby pregnancies screened between January 2005 and December 2006 in WA.

It found the new non-invasive test would have reduced the number of invasive diagnostic procedures while procedure-related miscarriages would have been reduced in high-risk women by 88%.

The results showed if all pregnant women identified as high-risk had adopted this non-invasive testing method, up to seven additional cases of the genetic disorder could have been confirmed.

It was estimated that implementing this new testing method would increase the public health system's cost of prenatal screening for Down syndrome by less than 10%.

The test is currently available only in Australia's private health sector.