The Welsh Government has launched a new screening programme to provide non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for detecting the risk of Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes.

Pregnant women in Wales will now be offered the new test along with the existing antenatal screening to identify any abnormalities associated with these genetic disorders during the first three months of expecting.

NIPT is intended to acts as a safer and accurate alternative to invasive tests that are said to possess a small risk of miscarriage.

Wales Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “Our antenatal screening programme plays an important role in providing expectant mothers with the information and support they need throughout their pregnancy.

“This more accurate test will reduce the need for further invasive tests in most cases, reducing the incidence of miscarriages related to invasive procedures.”

“This more accurate test will reduce the need of further invasive tests in most cases, therefore reducing the incidence of miscarriages related to invasive procedures.”

To be assessed over a period of three years, the NIPT currently offers combined screening for Edward’s and Patau’s in women expecting one baby, and combined screening for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s for those having twins.

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However, the test does not provide a complete diagnosis but is designed to inform the associated risks, reported BBC. A positive NIPT result has to be further confirmed by an invasive test.

Public Health Wales screening director Sharon Hillier said: “It is important that women are supported with information about the conditions and the screening offered so they can make the right decision for them as to whether they want to accept this offer.

“Health professionals involved in discussing the screening with women have undertaken training which has focused on personalised choice and up to date information on the conditions screened for.”