The new type of diagnosis examines blood samples from expectant mothers to check for fetal chromosomal abnormalities, including those related to Down’s syndrome. Currently, the diagnosis is limited to pregnant women aged 35 or older, considering the possibility of diagnosis results leading to abortions.
The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology plans to approve the conditional use of preimplantation diagnosis in fertility treatment, officials of the group said Saturday.
The society plans to revise internal regulations on preimplantation diagnosis as early as January, the officials said.
In a report compiled in May, the society had indicated a plan to allow preimplantation testing to be performed to detect diseases that may cause death “before adulthood in principle.” By using the expression “in principle,” the society aims to leave open the possibility of diseases that occur during adulthood being covered by the testing, while stopping short of listing specific disease names.
The Japanese government has decided to improve the provision of information on noninvasive prenatal genetic testing (NIPT), which examines pregnant women’s blood to determine the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in fetuses.
The decision has come about due to factors including births at advanced maternal ages driving up need for testing, but concern is growing among people with Down syndrome and their families that depending on how the information is conveyed, it could lead to “selection of life” practices and perpetuate prejudice.
The report on a new type of prenatal tests designed to detect chromosomal abnormalities of unborn children from their DNA in expectant mothers’ blood calls for the ministry, academic societies and other parties concerned to establish a new steering committee.