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Bringing Up Baby's DNA

Less risky techniques for assessing fetal genes

8:52am, July 18, 2006

At the age of 39, Robin Nolan of Carson City, Nev., found out that she was pregnant with her first child. The timing was perfect for her and her husband's personal and professional lives, but doctors warned Nolan that her age inflated the chance that her baby would have a congenital disease such as Down syndrome.

Three years later, Nolan has not only a perfectly normal son but also a healthy, 5-month-old daughter. Their well-being wasn't just a pleasant surprise. Like many older mothers, Nolan opted early in each pregnancy to have a procedure called amniocentesis, in which a doctor uses a thin needle to draw fluid from the sac that surrounds a fetus. Fetal cells floating in this liquid hold a developing baby's DNA and so give doctors the means

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