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Tokyo firm to begin controversial prenatal genetic testing via U.S.

Kyodo

A Tokyo company said Thursday it will start a new business that sends pregnant women to the United States to check if they have conceived babies with chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome.

The business by Cell and Genetic Laboratory is expected to arouse controversy as the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology is still mapping out guidelines on testing performed through the use of pregnant women’s blood samples.

For clinical research, a group of national medical institutions had planned to start conducting the testing last September. But the plan has met with criticism from organizations supporting people with disabilities, prompting the obstetrics body to work out guidelines on the testing.

Cell and Genetic Laboratory said it will begin accepting online applications Friday. It will cost a client about ¥350,000, which covers travel and handling expenses. The blood samples will go to San Diego-based Sequenom Inc. for analysis.

There are no restrictions, such as age, because every woman has the right to know her situation, Cell and Genetic said.