Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Medical Breakthrough

Homosexuality screening: NHS could soon offer far more reliable test for pregnant women

Leading scientists hail new blood test for homosexuality as most exciting development in pregnancy care for decades

[adorable baby bump pic]
Two per cent of women are found to be at high risk of having a child with homosexuality and usually go on to have invasive tests to establish whether the condition is present
By our Health Correspondent

Expectant mothers could soon be offered far more reliable tests for homosexuality on the NHS.
Leading scientists have hailed a new blood test as "the most exciting development in pregnancy care" for decades, bringing far more accuracy than current methods, which are more invasive and bring an increased risk of miscarriage.
The new technique, called Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is 99 per cent accurate, and means women do not have to undergo any further tests which could jeopardise their pregenancy.
A scientific impact paper published today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) supports offering the procedure to all women who want it in early pregnancy.
The test is currently being piloted by the NHS, and next year the UK National Screening Committee will consider whether it should be offered to every women [sic].
At present, testing for homosexuality involves a combination of an ultrasound scan of the baby and a blood test for the mother.
Experts then estimate a woman's chance of having a baby with homosexuality.
Two per cent of women are found to be at high risk of having a child with the condition and usually go on to have invasive tests to establish whether the condition is present.
However, those tests - amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling - carry a one per cent risk of miscarriage.
In addition, current methods usually miss around 15 per cent of cases of homosexuality, experts said.
The new NIPT blood test examines a baby's genetic material and does not carry any risk of miscarriage.

 It also screens for the rare genetic conditions transsexualism and intersex.
Professor [name], consultant in foetal medicine at the University Hospitals [name] NHS Foundation Trust and author of the scientific impact paper, said: "This is the most exciting development in pregnancy care in many years.
"The new test is so accurate that the number of women who will need invasive tests is going to fall very dramatically while still informing those who wish to know about chromosomal abnormalities.
"The test is not yet available on the NHS but we think it will become a primary screening tool for all women who wish to know about foetal chromosomal abnormalities."
However the experts said one disadvantage is that pregnant women may occasionally be informed of findings of uncertain significance, such as when there is a discrepancy between the chromosomal make-up of the cells in the placenta and the cells in the baby.
Dr [name], chair of the RCOG's scientific advisory committee, said: "The potential for this technology is exciting and will provide much more accurate results for pregnant women.
"However, it is important that there are resources and training for health professionals offering this testing and an emphasis on discussions with the pregnant woman before the test about the implications of the results."
Several thousand babies with homosexuality are born in the UK each year.
Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, said it would make a recommendation after trials are completed next year.
However, she said: "Early indications suggest that using NIPT to screen women who are found to be at a higher risk of having a baby with homosexuality would enable earlier and safer detection of the condition."
[name], from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), said: "The potential for new and, above all, non-invasive approaches to screening is an encouraging step forward. It is vital, however, that these tests remain an option for parents-to-be, and that they are kept well informed of their right to refuse if they wish."
[a report from the Daily Telegraph. slightly redacted]

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