asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is now the routine practice for high-risk pregnant women to have a serum test before being offered amniocentesis tests.
No. The serum test in pregnancy, which my hon. Friend is referring to, identifies those women at high risk of having a baby with spina bifida or other neural tube defect who might then proceed to amniocentesis. Where risk is known to be high already preliminary serum screening prior to amniocentesis is not necessary. Amniocentesis is also used in the prenatal diagnosis of certain other inherited disorders for which a serum test would have no relevance.