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Down syndrome test to be covered by health care

13:58 29/05/2017

From 1 July, the non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities will be fully, or near fully reimbursed for pregnant women in Belgium. Patients with a preferential health insurance status pay nothing, while others pay no more than €8.68 for the test, which typically costs around €500. Belgium is the first country in Europe to make the test almost free, report the Mediahuis newspapers.

Federal health minister Maggie De Block freed up €15 million for the initiative, enough to reimburse 100,000 NIPT tests annually. The NIPT is a non-invasive test for Down's syndrome based on a blood sample taken from the pregnant woman, which also contains DNA from the fetus. The test indicates with 99.8% certainty whether the fetus has a trisomy disorder. The most common of these is Down syndrome.

Some Belgian health insurers already provide partial reimbursement for the test, or even full reimbursement in the case of high-risk pregnancies. From July, all doctors and gynaecologists will be able to prescribe the NIPT test for their pregnant patients.

"The only condition is that the pregnant woman is well-informed about all possible outcomes," says De Block.

Written by Robyn Boyle