A new blood test set to be rolled out across the UK which identifies undesirable traits in babies could trigger a rise in abortions, experts have said.

Known as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), it screens for genes relating to height and hair colour – as well as revealing the sex of a baby.

But critics are concerned that the test, which can be undertaken when the foetus is nine weeks old, will encourage ‘sex-selection’ by parents who are desperate to have a boy (or girl), reports Daily Mail.

This early screening method also gives parents much more time to consider aborting their child, according to the Government-backed Nuffield Council for Bioethics.

Currently, parents can discover the gender of their child at their 20-week scan – four weeks before the legal cut-off for termination.

Professor Tom Shakespeare, chair of the body’s group on NIPT, told of his growing concern over the test which can screen for Down’s syndrome.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: ‘Abortions on the basis of sex appear to be rare in Britain.

‘However, this could change with a new DNA testing method that allows the baby’s sex to be revealed to prospective parents much earlier.

‘If left unchecked, use of this technique to determine sex could lead to an increase in sex-selective abortions here, and to Britain becoming a destination for them.’

Professor Shakespeare remained adamant that tests should only be used for those at risk of significant medical conditions that could impact a child’s life.

Do you have any concerns about this method of testing?

Share your comments below.

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  • Testing if it is safe for something wrong, if there are genetic problems in the family history.


  • …a rise in abortion if that is what is recommended but surely morals would come into play


  • I would only agree to it if there is a family history of a condition that would give a child basically very little or no quality of life. I know of a family who have 5 children who have a genetic disability with very little quality of life….the Drs. kept telling them it won’t happen again. One of the parents had the same condition.


  • Think that this testing could easily be used when it shouldn’t be.


  • Yes I find this very concerning !


  • I think only necessary testing should be done to check for medical conditions that could impact the childs life.


  • We wanted as much non invasive testing as possible – so we’d be prepared for whatever we ad to deal with. Testing should be available, but with counselling if there are concerns.


  • I’m only interested in necessary testing. Any unnecessary testing that could impact the health of my baby, I’m not interested.


  • I think it is rather concerning.


  • Just don’t offer the test if it isn’t medically necessary then.


  • This is going to open up many ethical questions.


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