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A series of tests to detect if a fetus is at risk of having Down’s Syndrome early in a pregnancy has been found to be highly sensitive and effective in identifying the genetic disorder. By combining ultrasound for nuchal thickness (skin on the back of the neck) and blood tests for pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), researchers can predict a woman’s likelihood of delivering a Down’s child after 11 weeks gestation. This early information enables the parents a greater timespan to decide if they want a further invasive, hazardous procedure (i.e. amniocentesis) to give more accurate results, or offer a less risky termination. It also gives reassurance of a healthy pregnancy in respect to this common disorder. However, there is a false positive rate of 5% which implies that the risk of aborting a healthy, normal fetus is possible.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by The Washington Post
About: Sensitive tests detect Down’s Syndrome earlier in utero
Date: 15 November 2005
Source: The Washington Post
Author: Rob Stein
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