Home > Parenting > Pregnancy Updated 04 November 2013 Free DNA testing for Down syndrome The Foetal Assessment Clinic in Cape Town has become the first pre-natal clinic in South Africa to offer cell-free DNA testing for Down syndrome, using only the mother’s blood. 0 Related Down syndrome Down's chromosome can be switched off 10 Down syndrome facts ASK The Paediatrician » Follow Health24 on Facebook » Quiz Are you ready for a baby? » Subscribe Parenting newsletter » How a woman's body changes during pregnancy Foetal development Clinical trial results of the Harmony Prenatal test were published in the United Kingdom last month, to great interest from medical professionals and the media due to the test’s 99.5% detection rate – the best screening result in the past 40 years of obstetric medicine.“The existing diagnostic tests on offer – chorionic villus sampling, which involves testing a small sample of the placenta, or an amniocentesis which tests the amniotic fluid around the baby – both carry a risk that they may cause a miscarriage,” said The Foetal Assessment Centre’s co-director Dr Shannon Morris. Non-invasive blood testThe Harmony Prenatal test offers simplicity with a non-invasive blood test performed as early as 10 weeks in pregnancy that poses NO risk to mother or foetus with a highly accurate detection of Down syndrome. “Our current screening tests such as serum blood tests and ultrasound are also non-invasive, but have false positive rates of up to 5%”, Morris said. “Previously, one in 20 women would be given a false positive result, but with the Harmony Prenatal test this drops to one in 1 000, so the need for invasive testing is significantly reduced”The Harmony Prenatal test assesses the risk for chromosome conditions such as Down syndrome and includes an optional analysis of foetal sex and sex chromosome conditions. The test can be used on singleton babies, twins, IVF pregnancies and donor ova.Morris and fellow co-director of The Foetal Assessment Centre, Dr Karin Norman, decided to bring the test to South Africa after seeing clinical evidence from the renowned Harris Birthright Research Centre for Foetal Medicine in London. The Foetal Assessment Centre, located in Claremont and founded in 2000, has been using the test since early July, and the first batch of results were successfully received from the Ariosa Diagnostics laboratory in California 9 days later. “This gives a turnaround time of about 10 to 12 days, so we have the results before the 12 week NT scan which is excellent.”“Ariosa has years of experience in cell-free DNA analysis which is why, despite the associated cost of transporting blood samples to the United States, we opted to use their laboratory services,” Norman said. “We are excited to offer this test to our expectant mothers, giving them increased peace of mind by providing early opportunities for making vital decisions during their pregnancies.” Press release from Manley Communications More in Parenting 10 most popular baby stories More: ParentingPregnancy advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.