Part of the show Medicine in the Tropics
Researchers have discovered a new aid to diagnosing Down's syndrome, a genetic condition caused by a developing baby having an extra copy of chromosome number 21. The condition can only be diagnosed with certainty by taking a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby inside the mother, but this is a risky business and can harm the baby. The researchers have found that part of the bone in the nose develops at a diferent time in most babies with Down's compared with normal babies. When this additional test is added to existing non-invasive tests for Downs syndrome, such as ultrasound scans and tests on the mothers blood, doctors can find 85% of down's babies - without having to resort to the risky kinds of test mentioned above.