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B. An Earlier Screening Test For Down's Syndrome

Narrator: This is Science Today. There's a new prenatal ultrasound procedure which allow doctors to detect Down's Syndrome earlier and with higher accuracy. Dr. James Goldberg, an expert in reproductive genetics at the University of California, San Francisco, says the new screening procedure measures fluid accumulation in the fetal neck called nuchal translucency.

Goldberg: It's a region that look like a tiny little swelling and all fetuses have a little bit of a lucency and that's generally about a millimeter or so. So it's pretty small. Fetuses with Down's Syndrome tend to have a larger area.

Narrator: 80% of Down's Syndrome cases were detected in the first trimester using this procedure.

Goldberg: The whole approach to earlier testing and screening is important for many couples because it gives them information regarding their pregnancy much earlier. If there is an abnormality, they would have the option of having an early, medically safer termination of pregnancy.

Narrator: And for those who choose to go on with the pregnancy, there's more time to prepare and identify other possible defects. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.