Early amniocentesis the prenatal test for Down's syndrome is so dangerous that Dutch researchers may abandon their trials into the procedure because it is not "ethically justified" to continue.
Since starting their tests, eight women have miscarried after having an early amniocentesis, similar to the losses noted in another trial of 120 women given the test.
Writing in The Lancet (8 October 1994), Dr F Vandenbussche et al from Leiden University Hospital warn other doctors that "there certainly seems no justification for the continuing unqualified advocacy of early amniocentesis on the basis of beliefs and uncontrolled observations."
The Dutch researchers noted that no miscarriages were reported by women using chorionic villus sampling (CVS) although earlier studies linked this procedure to birth defects.
Children who were tested with amniocentesis while in the womb reported "significantly higher" levels of hemolytic diseases (related to red blood cell levels) than those who did not have the test. Inexplicably, the researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada concluded that the results "should therefore be reassuring to women having amniocentesis"