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New test for pregnant women at their local hospital

28 December 2012

Health Care

Pregnant women at risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome are to be offered a new diagnostic test at Southend University Hospital.

The introduction of chorionic villous sampling (CVS) will mean pregnant women no longer have to travel up to London to have this test.

The simple needle biopsy procedure, which can be done from 11 weeks up to 16 weeks into the pregnancy, takes only about five minutes and involves taking a sample of (chorionic villi) cells from the placenta.

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Miss Tulika Singh, said: "The amniocentesis test for Down's syndrome has been widely available for many years but is done later in pregnancy, from 15 weeks. New scientific advances have made it possible to test before 15 weeks and thereby provide women with an earlier result to help make decisions."

Southend is the only hospital in Essex to provide CVS and is hoping to offer the test for women from other parts of the county. It is being phased in from January 15, 2013. If a test proves positive, the woman will be offered counselling and talked through the choices available.

Business unit director of women and children's services at the hospital, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Mr Khalil Razvi, said: "We are now able to offer a full suite of testing, including high-level scanning and invasive testing. We were offering a screening test before, but now we have the diagnostic test for those women found to be at high risk."

Historically, women pregnant with twins who share a placenta have had to travel to London for specialist screening every two weeks. Since Miss Singh's appointment at the hospital earlier this year, the same procedure is now available at Southend University Hospital.

Mandy Waller, antenatal and newborn screening coordinator, said: "We have about four sets of these pregnancies at any one time.

"By expanding our services, we are reducing the need for pregnant women to travel to London. There will still be some women who have to go there for very specialised care, but we have and will continue to maintain excellent relationships with these tertiary referral centres."


With pic: (l to r) consultant obstetricians and gynaecologists Miss Tulika Singh and Mr Khalil Razvi with antenatal and newborn screening coordinator Mandy Waller