• Kyodo

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More than 30,000 women have taken the new, noninvasive prenatal test for chromosomal abnormalities linked to such disorders as Down syndrome in the nearly three years since it became available, a survey said Tuesday.

The test, which is much less invasive than its predecessor, is becoming popular as more women attempt to have babies at an advanced age but is controversial because critics fear it will fuel abortions.

The blood test, which became available in April 2013, can be taken by women 35 or older or those with a history of fetal chromosomal abnormalities in previous pregnancies.

Based on data compiled by a research team comprising staffers from hospitals that offer the new blood-based prenatal test, 30,615 women took it and 547 had fetuses with suspected abnormalities.

Of those, 417 decided to undergo the more invasive amniotic fluid test to get a better diagnosis and confirmed that they had defective fetuses. Nearly 94 percent, or 394, thus chose to have abortions, according to the data.

Of those initially diagnosed as having possibly defective fetuses, further testing revealed that 41 had normal chromosomes, the data said.

Given the ethical issues surrounding abortion, the tests are being provided at medical institutions certified by the Japanese Association of Medial Sciences, with appropriate counseling provided.

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