The Nuffield Council on Bioethics today has today launched its new report Non-invasive prenatal testing: ethical issues which explores the ethical issues raised by non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT)
posted on Wednesday, 1st March 2017 | Not tagged.
From Anna Wilkinson, Programme Officer with the Nuffield
Council on Bioethics:
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics today has today launched its
Non-invasive prenatal testing: ethical issues which
explores the ethical issues raised by non-invasive prenatal testing
Over the course of our one-year inquiry we consulted a range of
people with different interests in NIPT, including people with
Down's syndrome and other genetic conditions, women who have
undergone NIPT, healthcare professionals, charities and
professional bodies. In the report we set out a number of
conclusions, including the following:
- NIPT is a powerful and important development. It can bring
benefits, but it needs to be used with caution if it is to support
reproductive autonomy, avoid harm, and promote equality and
inclusion in society.
- We support the use of NIPT in NHS screening for Down's,
Edwards' and Patau's syndromes, provided that it is accompanied by
accurate, balanced and non-directive information and support.
- We support the use of NIPT to diagnose rare genetic conditions
in the NHS. It is important for the NHS to ensure that it has
sufficient genetic counselling resources.
- If this test is to be offered, both through the NHS and in the
private sector, the Government must ensure it is meeting its duties
to support disabled people and to tackle discrimination.
- We are concerned about the way it is sometimes offered and
presented in the private sector and recommend that the promotion
and marketing of the tests should be more closely monitored and
- NIPT should not be offered for less significant conditions or
for sex determination (other than when a serious sex-linked
condition is suspected).
- NIPT should not be used for whole genome sequencing of fetuses,
other than in exceptional cases where there is a particular concern
about a condition of unknown cause.
A short guide to the report, a one page summary and an 'Easy
Read' version of the report are also available on the Nuffield
'The AGNC welcomes the report's acknowledgement that genetic
counselling services will need to grow to meet the information and
support needs of those patients undergoing testing.'
Peter Marks, AGNC Chair