Doctors have developed a blood test to check unborn babies for Down’s syndrome.
The approach could save pregnant women from having the invasive examinations currently available, which raise the risk of miscarriage.
Scientists from Cyprus, Greece and Britain said the new technique correctly identified 14 Down syndrome cases and 26 normal foetuses in a blind test. They believe it will also be possible to diagnose the condition earlier on.
Study author Philippos Patsalis, of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, said: 'The method is simple and fast and easy to perform in every genetic diagnostic lab worldwide because it does not require expensive equipment, software or special infrastructure.
'The test is the first worldwide to demonstrate 100 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity in all normal and Down's syndrome pregnancies examined.'