The Associated Press is reporting that a new blood test, performed only 9 weeks into a pregnancy, may be able to accurately detect Down syndrome.  Current screening for the chromosomal abnormality, which causes serious intellectual and developmental disability, starts with a blood test and is followed by an amniocentesis at four months gestational age.

Amniocentesis, in which a needle extracts amniotic fluid to test for Down syndrome and other diseases, poses a small risk of miscarriage, as does the similar procedure known as CVS (chorionic villus sampling).  According to the Boston Globe: