Accuracy of early foetal screening challenged

Women must be given full and proper details of the true accuracy of tests designed to screen for foetal abnormalities, including life-limiting conditions, maternity hospitals and units around the country have been told by the HSE’s head of women and infants health programme, Dr Peter McKenna.

Dr McKenna sent a letter to the hospitals and units after it emerged that a couple were incorrectly told in the National Maternity Hospital earlier this year that their unborn baby had a life-limiting condition only for it to emerge after the termination that the baby was perfectly healthy.

Dr McKenna draws attention in his letter to a document from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in England which has been challenging the claim made by some doctors that early pregnancy blood tests are 99pc accurate when screening for foetal abnormalities.