Scientists have developed a new blood test to check unborn children for Down's syndrome, a genetic abnormality, and other disorders, which they claim would be available in the market in four years.
A team in the Netherlands has come up with the cheap test which works by extracting the DNA of the foetus from the mother's blood and screening it for Down's syndrome and other abnormalities, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
According to the scientists, the test will provide a better alternative to invasive tests, like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which give an accurate result, but raise the risk of mother suffering a miscarriage.
The new test involves the same equipment needed for amniocentesis testing, but uses blood instead of amniotic fluid and is not invasive. But, so far, the scientists have been able to prove the technique works in principle and have described the results as "promising".
They now hope to use the same method to detect other abnormalities in an unborn child's DNA such as Edwards' syndrome, which causes structural malformations in the foetus, and Patau's syndrome, which results in mental impairment.
It could also be used to screen for muscular dystrophy and haemophilia, the scientists say.