Opinion

Learning disability nurses need to get involved with the ethical debate on prenatal testing

The availability of non-invasive prenatal testing has opened the debate about over-medicalising Down’s and other syndromes.
Prenatal screening

Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a nine-month ethical review of the use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) prompted by availability of screening for genetic conditions in the private sector, and the possible future uses of technology to identify possible post-birth characteristics.

NIPT is a new technology that can identify and, in some cases, diagnose some genetic conditions and variations via a blood test rather than using invasive tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. In the case of Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes, the new test is not sensitive enough to confirm a diagnosis, but it can produce a better estimate of the chances a woman has of carrying a child with those labels/conditions. NIPT

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