The TA-SWISS Centre for Technology Assessment has just published a report on Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) in an attempt to “avoid spin-offs” of these tests. This report will be presented to MPs whilst the Federal law on human genetic analysis, focusing essentially on prenatal testing, is undergoing a review.
In Switzerland, NIPS for Down Syndrome, Edwards Syndrome and Patau Syndrome has been refunded since July 2015 by the mandatory basic insurance scheme for mothers whose test during the first trimester of pregnancy revealed a higher than 1 in 1000 risk of down syndrome (see Switzerland: non-invasive prenatal screening for Down syndrome will be refunded).
Approximately one-third of women in Switzerland “refuse the first trimester test because they intend to accept their child as he/she is”. Associations defending the disabled “are concerned at the democratisation of NIPS” and are afraid that “these new tests will encourage more women to undergo Down syndrome screening and have an abortion, if if they test positive”. According to a report issued by TA-Swiss, “of the 300 foetuses estimated to test positive for Down Syndrome every year in Switzerland, the first trimester test leads to 166 abortions compared to 177 to 183 abortions with NIPS, depending on how the test is used”.
The report is intended to prevent these spin-offs and proposes that NIPS “should not become a routine test and that mothers-to-be know that they are entitled to refuse these tests”. It was also pointed out that NIPS “is not entirely error-free”.
 Combined screening comprising a blood test and ultrasound scan
Note from Gènéthique: