The National Screening Committee has recommended that the NHS offers non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to all high-risk pregnant women
The new IONA test from Manchester-based Premaitha Health screens unborn babies for Down’s syndrome and other serious genetic diseases such as Edward’s and Patau’s syndrome. A blood sample is taken from the pregnant woman’s arm after she has been pregnant for at least ten weeks, and is then sent off to be examined by a local healthcare provider; test results are known within 3-5 days. When compared to current screening methods such as amniocentesis and CVS, where a sample is taken directly form the amniotic fluid or placenta, it’s less invasive and safer for the baby, totally avoiding the risk of miscarriage.
More than one in five pregnant women in the UK are now over the age of 35, which equates to approximately 140,000 live births each year. As expectant mothers get older they have a higher risk of their pregnancies being affected by Down’s Syndrome, with one in 40 pregnancies found to be high risk from the current combined test. A pregnant woman is classed as high-risk if there’s a 1:150 chance of her having a baby affected by Down’s syndrome.
The National Screening Committee’s recommendation means that more British women will benefit from having access to an NHS funded NIPT as an alternative to paying for it privately. Dr. Stephen Little, CEO of Premaitha Health, comments: “In the IONA® test we have worked with clinical experts to develop a leading NIPT test which has earned the gold-standard CE mark, so that expectant mums and their partners can get the highest quality prenatal care using the latest DNA technologies. We hope to see a roll out of NIPT, such as the IONA® test, to many more hospitals in the coming months and we are encouraging mums who are eligible for fetal anomaly screening to request the IONA® test from their midwife or doctor.”
The service hopes to aid the NHS in saving money, but perhaps more importantly offer a peace of mind to new mums the country over.