A new, less invasive, less risky prenatal test to detect Down Syndrome is as easy as drawing blood, according to genetic-analysis products-maker Sequenom.
The test, called MaterniT21, checks for abnormal chromosomes that cause the developmental disability by analyzing the mother's blood. The test is effective from the 10th week of pregnancy, the company said.
Currently, such tests are clinically invasive -- and risky -- and require an extraction of amniotic fluid or a placenta sample.
Sequenom officials said their new test is 99.1-percent accurate in finding Trisomy 21, the most common cause of Down Syndrome.
Sequenom, whose mishandling of clinical data in 2009 led to the removal of the CEO and research chief, faces competition from Verinata Health. That company is reportedly coming out with a similar test next year. A third company developing prenatal tests is Gene Security Network.