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New prenatal Down syndrome test is simpler, safer

A pregnant woman is shown with her doctor in this undated file photo.

March 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Scientists in Europe have developed a simpler test for detecting Down syndrome in unborn babies.

The new blood test can pick up fetal DNA that has been shed into the mother's bloodstream.

Currently, doctors take a sample of amniotic fluid or the placenta. Those sampling procedures involve a small risk of miscarriage.

The new tests are not yet available, but at least one company is working on one.

The company hopes to introduce the new test in about a year.