By: 13 January 2014

Earlier this month Spire The Glen Hospital Bristol became the first clinic in South West England to offer women a new prenatal test designed to check for genetic disorders. This is the first time that this test has been available to expectant parents outside of London, making it easier for parents in the region to check the health of their baby.

Known as the Harmony Prenatal Test, the new procedure can accurately detect conditions such as Down’s Syndrome using a non-invasive procedure, which reduces the risk of miscarriage associated with invasive testing methods. From a simple blood test taken from the expectant mother, the Harmony Test can distinguish the baby’s DNA and scan for potential genetic disorders.

Not currently available on the NHS, the test is being offered at Spire Bristol by consultant gynaecologist, Mr Vyas, and it is at the forefront of molecular biology.

As well as detecting Down’s Syndrome, the Harmony Prenatal Test also checks for Edward’s Syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome.

The former is associated with a high rate of miscarriage, and babies born with this condition often suffer from a range of medical problems as well as a shortened lifespan. Babies born with the latter usually have severe heart defects and rarely survive beyond the first year.

Mr Vyas said: “This new test is non-invasive and reduces the chance of miscarriage traditionally associated with testing for Down’s Syndrome. Patients would previously have had to travel to London for this procedure, but now it’s available on their doorstep.

“This test is suitable for women who are over ten weeks into their pregnancy can detect 99 percent of babies with Down’s Syndrome, 98 percent with Edwards’ Syndrome and 80 percent of babies with Patau’s Syndrome.”

Rob Anderson, hospital director, added: “By offering a procedure that was previously only available in a limited number of places, we are continuing to improve our service and providing people with access to the best diagnostic tests available.”

More information about the new test can be found on the Spire Bristol website: