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Stats on NIPT

A UK statistician says that non-invasive prenatal screening for conditions like Down's syndrome won't affect the number of terminations performed, but will prevent miscarriages, the Guardian reports.

The UK has approved the use of NIPT to detect trisomies 21, 18, and 13 as part of a prenatal screening program, as GenomeWeb reported last week. GenomeWeb added that the expectation is for NIPT to replace more invasive amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling testing and reduce the risk of miscarriage.

But as the Guardian notes, some critics have said that would 'screen out' people with Down syndrome as parents-to-be would be more inclined to pursue non-invasive testing, which would, in turn, lead to a rise in terminations.

Sir David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge tells the paper, though, that data from the health department suggests that NIPT screening would lead to an increase of 20 diagnoses per year, while avoiding 40 miscarriages.

"There's been a lot of concerns expressed about the increased number of terminations," Spiegelhalter says. "In the assumptions under the current model that's not the case. The estimate is that there wouldn't be a change."

The test is expected to available through the National Health Service in 2018 or 2019.