Pregnant women in Wales now have access to safer and more accurate screening tests for Down’s, Edward’s and Patau’s syndromes as part of the NHS pathway.
Wales is the first UK nation to introduce Non-invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) across the whole country as an addition to the existing antenatal screening offer.
The NIPT test will be offered to women who have taken up the initial offer of screening and are found to be at a higher chance of Down’s, Edward’s or Patau’s syndrome. This will be offered as an alternative to an invasive test which has a small risk of miscarriage. Offering NIPT is expected to reduce the number of miscarriages as fewer invasive tests are expected to be undertaken in Wales.
Sharon Hillier, Director of Screening for Public Health Wales, said, ‘We’ve worked closely with parents, charities and health professionals to improve the pathway and the information that we provide to pregnant women in Wales.
‘It’s important that women are supported with information about the conditions and the screening offered so that they can make the right decision for them as to whether they want to accept this offer.
‘As well as updating the pre-test written information for women, we have also produced a short film about NIPT in English and Welsh.
‘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.’
Meanwhile, Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, commented, ‘I’m pleased Wales is leading the way by introducing the offer of NIPT into the antenatal screening pathway for pregnant women across the country. This is more accurate than current tests, so a low chance test result would not require further invasive tests, reducing the unnecessary harm from the small risk of miscarriage that can be caused by the invasive test.
‘I am grateful to the dedicated staff in our health boards who have worked hard to implement these improvements to the antenatal screening pathway.’