Study to evaluate new prenatal test for Down syndrome in the NHS

A major new study run by the RAPID team Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) will evaluate the possibility of offering an improved prenatal test for Down syndrome. The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and developed in close collaboration with the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC), will explore aspects of how non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) might be offered to pregnant women in the NHS. The new blood test could improve the early detection of Down syndrome with fewer women needing invasive tests, which can lead to miscarriage.

NIPT detects DNA from a baby in a sample of blood taken from the mother and this new test is reported to be approximately 99% accurate.

The study, which launched on 1 November 2013, will involve the recruitment of women from several maternity units in London and South East England. It will investigate how NIPT compares with the NHS’s current Down syndrome screening programme in terms of how many women want it; how easily the NHS can provide it and how the associated information and education would be provided to women and healthcare professionals.

The launch of the study created considerable media interest, some of which can be accessed via the links below.