§ Mr. Alton
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make it his policy to commission research on the rate of spontaneous abortion and the rate of miscarriage associated with the amniocentesis test;
(2) what figures he has on the number of premature births associated with the amniocentesis test.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
A report by the Royal College of Physicians on pre-natal diagnosis and genetic screening published in September 1989 said that there is still some uncertainty about the exact risk to pregnancy from amniocentesis largely because the risk is so low and extremely difficulty to measure. The report noted that studies suggest a 1 per cent. excess risk of spontaneous abortion following amniocentesis and a slight increased incidence of mild respiratory problems in the newborn. The commissioning of further research would be a matter for the Medical Research Council which is responsible for biomedical research.