Vitality

Pregnancy Test That Can Predict Down Syndrome, Miscarriage, And Twins May Be Available In Just 2 Years

pregnancy test
The MAP Test hopes to provide expectant parents with accurate information faster. TipsTimesAdmin CC BY 2.0

The days of wondering what to expect when you’re expecting may soon be over. Researchers in the UK are working on eliminating much of the mystery surrounding pregnancies by developing a mail-in test that can predict everything from whether or not a couple is having twins to if an unborn child may have Down syndrome, using nothing more than a urine sample.

MAP Diagnostics is the company behind the first-of-its-kind pregnancy test that would reveal intricate details of both a mother and child’s health months before the actual due date, Smithsonian reported. The test, known as the MAP test, was originally developed to analyze proteins in a mother’s urine to predict chances of having an aneuploid pregnancy, or a pregnancy in which the child has an abnormal number of chromosomes in his cells (the cause of Down syndrome ). The Telegraph reported that the technique is similar to that used in IVF when screening for the best embryo to implant.

However, according to the company’s website, the researchers soon realized that the same technology used to predict Down syndrome could be used to predict other conditions, including: preeclampsia, hyperemesis gravidarum, ectopic pregnancies, gestational diabetes, assisted reproduction, intrauterine growth restriction, and gestational cancer.

According to MAP’s founder and chief scientific officer, Stephen Butler, this ultimate pregnancy test would provide expectant parents with more accurate test results than those currently available. “What we’re trying to do is create more information so people can make better decisions,” Butler explained, as reported by Smithsonian.

The pregnancy test we're familiar with today was patented in 1972, but humans have recorded their efforts to predict pregnancies for nearly a thousand years. In the 1920s, scientists discovered the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and pregnancy tests started to become a little more accurate. The MAP test works off a similar concept as traditional pregnancy tests but goes one step further by analyzing the hCG for proteins that can indicate other health conditions.

Unlike at-home pregnancy tests, the MAP test would need to be sent to a lab for proper analysis. Also, a woman would need to be at least eight weeks into her pregnancy to get an accurate result. Currently, an amniocentesis procedure, where a doctor draws amniotic fluid from the mother’s uterus using a needle, is the most common way to predict Down syndrome in unborn children. The new test would theoretically provide a non-invasive way to arrive at the same answer.

The test for Down syndrome may take up to two years before becoming available to the public, but MAP Diagnostics developers hope their simpler tests, such as those for preeclampsia, will become available to the global market within six months. According to Smithsonian, the most recent developments on the MAP test were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lisbon in June. Researchers are expected to release further information on their developments at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Baltimore this fall.

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