A new blood test for Down’s Syndrome has been approved by the National Screening Committee.
Currently mums-to-be at risk of having a baby with Down’s are offered an amniocentesis test, where a needle is inserted to extract a sample of amniotic fluid. This invasive test results in one in 200 women losing their babies.
Women will now be offered the new non-invasive prenatal blood test instead.
The new test will screen whether the mum-to-be’s blood contains any trace of the extra chromosome 21, which causes Down’s Syndrome. If the test is positive, doctors will suggest a further amniocentesis test.
The new test will be rolled out gradually.
Trials were initially carried out by Great Ormond Street Hospital into how the new tests could be used in the NHS.
Prof Lyn Chitty, who led those trials, told the BBC: "I'm very pleased that they've made the decision to introduce it into NHS maternity care for all women, we know many are going to the private sector for it at the moment.
"For those getting reassurance, it's great and they can enjoy the rest of their pregnancy.
"For those with a positive diagnosis, we have to put measures in place to support them."