In the year 2011….

By Razib Khan | October 25, 2011 6:45 pm

Follow up to the previous post, (Via Ed), Fetal gene screening comes to market:

Until last week, scrutinizing a fetus’s DNA for indications of genetic abnormalities meant tapping into the mother’s womb with a needle. Now there’s a test that can do it using a small sample of the mother’s blood. MaterniT21, a Down’s syndrome test that Sequenom of San Diego, California, launched in major centres across the United States on 17 October, is the first of several such tests expected on the market in the next year. It signals the arrival of a long-anticipated era of non-invasive prenatal genetic screening, with its attendant benefits and ethical complications….

In the “news your can use” section of their press release:

The out-of-pocket cost of the test for insured patients will be no more than $235. Sequenom CMM will initially operate as an out-of-network provider to ensure eligible patients will have coverage for the test. While negotiating to ensure coverage by most major private insurance programs, the reimbursement for the test is expected to be similar to that of current invasive procedures like amniocentesis or CVS.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal Genomics
  • Clark

    I might well be wrong but my sense is that the typical American makes a distinction between 1st trimester and 2cd trimester. (Oddly this doesn’t get discussed much in the rhetoric of the abortion debate) If there was a blood test early in the 1st trimester I bet you’d find people wouldn’t worry about it as much. Much like the so-called abortion pill has become rather uncontroversial simply because the fetus isn’t yet recognizably human at that stage and women aren’t even really showing they are pregnant.

    Of course some pro-life people still oppose such things, but just looking at how relatively uncontroversial the abortion pill is at the moment along with early 1st trimester engagement I suspect it would be uncontroversial with this as well.

    If it requires 2cd or especially 3rd trimester then it’s a whole different ball game in the American public mind it would seem.

  • Mustapha Mond

    Not just in America. Abortions in the second and third trimesters are more severely restricted both in France and in Germany, and indeed throughout Europe, than they are in the United States.

  • Neuro-conservative

    This is an excellent point. Right now the Sequenom test is offered at 10 weeks at the earliest (plus a one week turnaround for results). This is comparable to chorionic vilius sampling, and earlier than amnio, which does tend to be uncomfortably late for some (and just plain uncomfortable for most).

  • Abelard Lindsey

    “Not just in America. Abortions in the second and third trimesters are more severely restricted both in France and in Germany, and indeed throughout Europe, than they are in the United States.”

    People can just travel to a different country if its a political issue. The cost of a 1-2 week trip is miniscule compared to the investment involved in having kids. Due diligence is always cheaper than the alternative.

  • Douglas Knight

    Actually, this company was already selling maternal blood screening for cystic fibrosis last year, and received an FDA complaint. What’s new this month is trisomy 21, which is ordinarily easier to test for, but apparently harder this way.

  • Lisa

    @Douglas Knight: what do you mean it’s ordinarily easier to test for but harder this way? Ordinarily how?


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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