Today, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned three online advertisements for the use of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to test for genetic conditions. The ASA ruling stated that claims made in the ads used misleading statistics about the accuracy of the tests.

The ads were shown on the websites of three private providers of NIPT for genetic conditions including Down’s, Patau’s and Edwards’ syndromes. In each case, the ASA challenged whether the ads had misleadingly exaggerated the accuracy of the test.

Read the rulings in full:

Our 2017 report on the ethical issues of NIPT highlighted serious issues with how some private clinics and providers are marketing and offering NIPT in the UK. (See Our concerns about non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) in the private healthcare sector and Non-invasive prenatal testing is starting to get the attention it deserves).

We welcome this decision by the ASA as a step towards providing accurate and reliable information to women and couples who are seeking NIPT.

Commenting on the rulings, Catherine Joynson, Assistant Director of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, said:

“It is vital that women and couples undergoing NIPT are provided with clear and accurate information about what the tests can tell them, how reliable they are, and what the next steps would be should any follow up be required. We therefore welcome this action from the ASA and hope it will lead to a raising of standards for information provision across the whole sector, for the benefit of pregnant women and couples across the country. This is one of many improvements to the provision of NIPT that the Nuffield Council on Bioethics has been calling for, since we published our report on the ethics of NIPTback in 2017.”