The end of amniocentesis?

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Special Needs

pregnant womanAmniocentesis is not only uncomfortable, it can put an unborn baby at risk. Still, the test is often the only way that parents can find out if their baby if there baby has a chromosomal disorder, such as Down's syndrome. Though the risk is small, any risk is important when you're talking about the health of your child.

But there may come a time when amniocentesis is used less frequently, if at all. A new method developed by scientists at Stanford University may make detecting genetic problems as easy as a blood test. By counting and sequencing DNA fragments, researchers were able accurately detect which women were carrying babies with genetic abnormalities. Because fetal DNA circulates in the mother's blood early in pregnancy, the test would also be able to be done earlier than amniocentesis.

If the test holds up in larger trials, experts estimate it could be used by doctors within two to three years.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.