Scientists have developed a new method of screening for Down's syndrome in unborn babies.
The procedure is likely to prove more reliable than current methods, but crucially, it is less invasive.
According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, currently invasive methods of screening are applied to between three and five per cent of pregnant women in the UK.
However, the new DNA-based blood test could reduce this to just 0.1 per cent.
One of the main benefits of this is that it reduces the number of women who could be at risk of miscarriage since one in every 100 women who has an invasive test will miscarry.
Professor Kypros Nicolaides of King's College London, who led the research, commented: "Some women, understandably, are fearful of invasive tests. This extra screen is non-invasive and would save many from needing further investigation.
"Our study shows it is feasible to use in clinical practice."