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Down Syndrome test set to save lives
Down Syndrome test set to save lives

FIRST ON 7: A new, simple procedure to screen for Down's Syndrome in unborn babies is about to be launched in Australia.

Doctors say the non-invasive test is highly accurate, and should save lives.

Clinical Professor at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Dr Jon Hyett, says it's a great development in pre-natal diagnosis.

He has been trialling the test which can detect Down's Syndrome through a sample of the mother's blood.

"For a group of women who have a higher level of risk of having a baby with Down's Syndrome, who traditionally choose to have an amniocentesis, this might offer them an alternative method," Doctor Duncan said.

It could eventually replace the risky amniocentesis procedure, where a needle is inserted through a mother's navel to retrieve fluid, and can cause miscarriage.

Early testing shows it's 99 percent accurate, and it will be widely available in Australia at the end of this month.

But it isn't cheap, costing around $1500 which makes it unaffordable for many women.

It may become cheaper with wider use, and provide relief to thousands of pregnant women.

For more information visit Sydney Ultrasound for Women or speak to your local GP.