Amniocentesis may become a thing of the past, as new procedures are developed that can non-invasively but definitively test for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, writes Amanda Schaffer for DoubleX. The procedures, expected to be available in the next few years, take advantage of a recent discovery: Early in pregnancy, DNA from the fetus enters the mother’s blood and can then be tested.
"Why take a big needle to the belly if a little needle in the arm tells you everything you need to know about your fetus?" asks Schaffer. The first tests will likely be able to detect a narrow set of problems, including Down syndrome, but the science will gradually expand to cover a much wider scope. "All of this may relieve women of one source of prenatal anxiety—though it won’t make getting the results of genetic tests any less fraught."