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A private British clinic is now offering pregnant women the chance to take a new blood test that can than screen their unborn child for all known genetic abnormalities. The MaterniT GENOME test is offered to women at week 11 of their pregnancies and is considered so comprehensive that it can even detect super rare genetic disorders that standard tests don't catch.
While this isn't the first time a similar sort of prenatal test has been offered, previous versions only offered a risk percentage that a child would be born with a certain defect. (And according to one report, the results could be inaccurate, up to half the time.) The MaterniT GENOME test claims to give far more accurate results by being the first test to examine all 46 chromosomal pairs. According to Sequenom, the biotech company that makes this test, only one in 200 patients would receive a false diagnosis.
One of the doctors at the clinic offering this test, Dr. David Nyberg, tells the Daily Mail "The bottom line is that, for the first time, we'll be offering a test which analyses all 46 chromosomes at a resolution that is similar to that of standard karyotyping [chromosome analysis] from amniocentesis. This is one of the biggest breakthroughs in [fetal] DNA testing ever."
However, disability advocates and other medical professionals are concerned that the public offering of such a test would lead to an increased rate of terminations of potentially healthy fetuses if parents are misinformed about what the results actually mean in regards to having a child born with a specific birth defect—which no test can really confirm.