Stating the urgent need to avoid the “misuse and abuse” of prenatal tests in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced that it will take legal action against companies that send blood samples of pregnant women from Mumbai to elsewhere in India or outside the country.
The civic body has claimed that the companies which conduct a Non Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) or a Non Invasive Analysis for Chromosomal Examination (NACE) send the blood samples to countries like China, Hong Kong and America. These tests are conducted in the tenth or the twelfth week of pregnancy to detect the chromosomal abnormalities of the foetus. But these tests, the BMC claims, are also an easy way to detect the sex of the foetus.
“In India, we have the PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act which curbs the practice of female foeticide and therefore keeps a check on the low sex ratio. If the blood samples go out of India, there are chances of misuse of the blood test for prenatal sex determination and sex selection by families, which may lead to a further drop in the sex ratio,” said a civic official from the Health department of the BMC.
The civic body also said that there are further chances of misuse since there are many centres for blood testing which are not registered under the PCPNDT Act. “Sometimes these companies collect blood samples from the patients’ residence itself and send it outside the country. The blood test can be done at any centre, and many of these consultants and pathological laboratories are not registered under the Act,” the official added.