Experts Agree Way Forward for Non Invasive Pre-natal Testing

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Experts will agree a way forward for non- invasive pre-natal testing (NIPD) at the annual 'Special non invasive advances in Fetal and Neonatal Evaluation Network' (SAFE) assembly in Bristol on 29 to 31 January 2007.

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Professor Neil Avent from the University of the West of England and Chair of the SAFE Steering Committee explained, "We will discuss the progress made in the last year and plan the work to be done in the forthcoming months. Much progress has been made towards achieving our aims and SAFE is really beginning to impact on the way prenatal diagnosis is being performed across Europe. SAFE has worked to improve access for high risk families by promoting the spread of information regarding these techniques and establishing standards applicable across Europe. As a result, this technology is now available to a significant population and evidence is accumulating that demonstrates the efficacy and safety of these exciting new techniques."

SAFE achievements include NIPD for fetal sex determination in women at high risk of a sex-linked genetic disorder or congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). This has proved effective and has reduced the invasive testing rate by nearly 50%. These women often have an affected child or history of therapeutic pregnancy loss, and are desperate to avoid the risks of invasive testing in pregnancies that are particularly precious. SAFE has promoted the introduction of NIPD by developing standards required for routine implementation through workshops, and exchanging samples and expertise between laboratories in Europe. Thanks to SAFE funding non-invasive fetal sexing is now offered as part of the national genetics service in some countries

SAFE is charged not just with facilitating widespread implementation of these exciting new tests, but also doing it in an ethically sound way. There is obvious potential for abuse of tests permitting easy and early fetal sexing. SAFE has addressed this in a workshop which has been published

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