§ Mr. Parry
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what research is undertaken in the United Kingdom into the study of the human foetus during pregnancy;
(2) if she is satisfied with the existing research into the study of the human foetus during pragnancy; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Thatcher
The Medical Research Council is supporting relevant studies both in their own research establishments and through the award of long-term programme and project grants to university departments and other centres. The council is concerned not only with work on the development of the normal foetus but also with methods for detecting foetal abnormality by techniques such as amiocentesis, on which they recently set up a working party to advise them. Studies being undertaken include work on the chromosomal and biochemical constitution of the developing foetusin utero aimed at the detection of abnormal pregnancies and coupled with their avoidance through genetic counselling.
In order to stimulate further work in this general area of obstetrics and gynaecology, the council has agreed to set up a new unit in reproductive biology and have awarded a new long-term grant to develop and strengthen research training facilities in an established department of obstetrics.
Other studies on human foetal development are in progress under the auspices of the health departments, the hospital authorities and in university departments with support from U.G.C. funds.