Prenatal Assurance

New blood tests offer noninvasive screening for Down syndrome

It used to be that most children with Down syndrome, the genetic abnormality that leads to physical deformity and mental retardation, were born to women age 35 and older. For that reason, many older expectant mothers now have amniocentesis to see whether the baby's genes bear the telltale defects associated with the ailment. The result is that fully 80% of victims today -- in the U.S. at least -- are born to mothers 35 and younger. These women tend to avoid amniocentesis because for them the risk of bearing kids with Down syndrome is significantly lower than the risk from the...

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