The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is conducting a comprehensive survey on the living conditions of people with Down syndrome amid controversy over a new prenatal testing method that helps detect possible chromosome abnormalities in fetuses.

The new method, introduced in April 2013, is a simple maternal blood test developed in part to avoid the hazards of amniocentesis, a different test that can cause miscarriages because it involves withdrawing amniotic fluid from the fetus.

The new test, while not definitive, is highly accurate and can be conducted at earlier stages of pregnancy than conventional tests.