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Genome of 18-Week-Old Foetus Deciphered

from BBC News Online

A blood sample from mum and saliva from dad have been used to sequence the genome of a foetus in the womb, by US researchers. At the time, the mother was just 18 weeks into the pregnancy.

The doctors said the findings, reported in Science Translational Medicine, could eventually lead to foetuses being screened for thousands of genetic disorders in a single and safe test. However, they also caution it would raise "many ethical questions."

The scientists at the University of Washington used pieces of the foetus' DNA which naturally float around in the pregnant woman's blood. These fragments were then pieced together using the parents' DNA as a guide to build a complete 'map' of the foetus's genome. They then compared the genetic map drawn 18 weeks into pregnancy with the foetus' actual DNA taken from the umbilical cord after birth. It was 98% accurate.

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