HC Deb 22 April 1975 vol 890 cc278-9W
Mr. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research programmes have currently been authorised in England and Wales into the early diagnosis of spina bifida during pregnancy, with particular reference to ensuring that the present amniocentesis test has increased reliability.

Dr. Owen

The Medical Research Council is supporting relevant work at Guy's Hospital and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, both in London, and at Cardiff, Oxford and Sheffield; and a programme of research on congenital abnormalities supported directly by my Department at Guy's Hospital includes work on amniocentesis testing and genetic counselling. The council has a working party which is attempting to define the magnitude of risk from amniocentesis. The Standing Medical Advisory Committee for England and Wales has recently considered antenatal screening for spina bifida and, while recommending that no general screening programme involving amniocentesis should be introduced at present, it has emphasised the importance of research aimed at establishing the validity of screening tests and has asked for a further report.