The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology released guidelines Saturday for conducting clinical studies on a new prenatal blood test that makes it easier to detect chromosomal abnormalities in fetuses but could end up fueling abortions.

The controversial exam, which is designed to detect trisomy 21 — the origin of Down syndrome — and other chromosomal abnormalities, will be available to pregnant women of "advanced age," generally considered 35 or older, and those found at risk of carrying babies with such abnormalities in earlier exams, including sonograms.

It will also be available to women who have previously given birth to babies with such defects, which are caused by cells with extra chromosomes.