Dr. Stephen R. Quake of Stanford University and a team of other researchers found that taking the blood samples from a pregnant woman may be an effective way to test for Down’s Syndrome. While only a small group of 18 woman participated in this study, if the method is approved and successful, this would be an alternative to the current, more risky procedures that test for Down’s Syndrome in an unborn baby. Amniocentesis, one of the most popular prenatal testing methods for Down’s Syndrome, has far more risks associated with it.
This test was just published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Benefits of this new method include the ability to test much earlier in pregnancy as well as the ability to return results in days rather than two to three weeks.
The prenatal blood test works because of tiny amounts of fetal DNA that circulate in a mother’s bloodstream. The test is being patented by Stanford University and companies are currently negotiating the rights to this test. Edwards syndrome and Patau syndrome are two other conditions that this test can detect.
Down’s Syndrome occurs when a child has three copies of Chromosome 21 rather than two. The extra copy of the chromosome results in mental retardation.