New blood test to check for Down syndrome: Update

Health minister Edith Schippers has given the go-ahead for trials of a DNA blood test which allows pregnant women to check whether their baby may have Down syndrome.

Schippers is acting on the advice of the health commission.

Blood from the expectant mother contains information about the DNA of the baby, and this can show whether the chromosomes have any defects which could lead to Down, Petau’s or Edward’s syndromes, Nos television reports.

The simple non-invasive prenatal NIPT test will be used when the neck measurement ultrasound test and the echo of the embryo give cause for concern. The non-invasive nature of the blood test poses less risk to the mother than the amniocentesis test.

An amniocentesis test will only be required if the blood test showed chromosome defects.


The DNA blood test is a fairly recent development but is already being used in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, China and the US. Dozens of worried Dutch women are known to have crossed the border for the tests.

In March, the health minister stopped a number of gynaecologists from two university teaching hospitals from carrying out trials using the test pending official permission. She has now said she will follow the health commission’s advice and carry out trials.

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