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Nuchal scan

This is a high-definition ulstrasound scan that can identify the risk factor for Down's Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. It has an accuracy rate of around 85 per cent at 11 weeks' gestation.

It makes it possible to measure the fluid behind the neck of the fetus, where the neural tube will form, and thereby give an indication of the level of risk. Developed at the Harris Birthright Centre in London, it is still only offered at a few hospitals in the UK, but should become more widely available in time.

As this test only indicates the risk factor for abnormality, further diagnostic testing may be necessary if more information is to be gained.

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