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Swiss fears over new Down syndrome test

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10:13 CEST+02:00
A controversial new test to detect Down syndrome in unborn babies will come onto the Swiss market in August, something campaigners fear will lead to further stigmatization of sufferers.

The new non-invasive test will become available in mid-August, and involves a simple blood test during the tenth week of pregnancy to ascertain whether the genetic disease, Trisomy 21, is present online news site Le Matin reported.

Swissmedic, the institution behind the new test, told newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that it can “exclude or confirm with 89 percent accuracy whether Trisomy 21 is present”.

Health insurance companies have said that they will cover the cost of such tests once the effectiveness has been proven.

However, many are concerned that insurance companies will no longer assist with the disabled should these methods become the norm.

“If the possibility of eradicating Trisomy 21 really exists, we cannot exclude that in the future, parents who allow their child to be born with Down syndrome, may be stigmatized,” Green Party politician, Catherine Roulet, told the website.

Maternity chief at Zurich University Hospital, Judit Pok, is also concerned about the social treatment of people who refuse to have an abortion despite having learned that the child will be disabled.

“If society were to think that it is possible to avoid having a child with this disability, who knows what behaviour would ensue in light of the parents’ refusal to abort,” she told the website.

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