New Down’s syndrome test developed at King's

Researchers have developed a new way of testing if an unborn baby has Down's syndrome.

Test tubes in a rack

The new test is a non-invasive blood test developed by a team at King’s College Hospital and King’s College London, part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.

The test can be given earlier in pregnancy and is more accurate than current checks. The research is published in two papers today in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Down's syndrome, also referred to as trisomy 21, is a genetic condition. It is caused by the presence of all or part of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a person’s DNA.

Current screening for Down's syndrome and other conditions of this kind includes a combined test done between the eleventh and thirteenth weeks of pregnancy. They involve an ultrasound screen and a hormonal analysis of the pregnant woman’s blood. Some other methods are used to detect abnormalities but they are both invasive and carry a risk of miscarriage.

Kypros Nicolaides, Professor Fetal Medicine at King’s College London and Head of the Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine at King’s College Hospital, led the study. He said: “This test is nearly diagnostic. It tells you almost certainly your baby has Down's or almost certainly it does not.

"From a woman's perspective, that is a much more clear message about what to do next."

Important information for patients

This test was used as part of a clinical trial for a specific group of patients. This test is not routinely available at King’s College Hospital.

For further information please contact:
Laura Carpenter
Communications Manager
Extension: +44 (0)20 3299 3850