Experts have asked for pregnant women to be offered screening tests for serious genetic conditions earlier in their pregnancy.
Tests for conditions such as Edward’s and Patau syndromes are currently only done at around 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, the UK National Screening Committee has recommended that scans and blood tests to detect abnormalities should be done sooner.
These conditions affect about two in every 10000 UK births annually.
About 75% of pregnancies which have been affected by Edward’s syndrome result in stillbirth or miscarriage. Babies who survive often suffer with severe developmental issues.
Patau’s syndrome which is also known as Trisomy 13 can cause death. Babies born with the condition may suffer a wide range of conditions, including neurological abnormalities and heart defects.
The UK National Screening Committee’s Dr Annie Mackie said that more than 700000 women become pregnant in Britain annually and although 95% of the pregnancies will be healthy, there are a few cases where there are issues which could affect the development of the baby.
She said that the recommendation would provide women access to support and allow them to make important choices at an early stage of pregnancy.
Ministers based in England have approved this recommendation and it is believed that the rest of Britain will follow suit.
Image Credit: Gareth Saunders