April 14, 2024

Missed opportunities with new UK screening test

Parents may miss opportunities to abort handicapped children if a new type of prenatal genetic testing is adopted in the UK, complain researchers in the most recent issue of The Lancet. The UK National Screening Committee recommended last year that new screening programs for Down Syndrome do not have to include karyotyping, a process which analyses a person’s 23 chromosome pairs but takes up to 14 days to produce. Instead it recommends quicker and simpler tests called FISH or PCR.

Dr John Crolla, of Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory, says that the new policy will result in substantial numbers of liveborn children with hitherto preventable mental or physical handicaps. This represents, he contends, a substantial change in the outcome quality of prenatal testing offered to couples in the UK.