An external review is to be conducted into the circumstances of a termination of pregnancy in March this year at the National Maternity Hospital.  

It follows a complaint made by a couple who had been informed that tests showed their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality -Trisomy18, also known as Edwards syndrome. 

The termination of pregnancy occurred in March of this year at over 15 weeks.

Three genetic tests were carried out, the third of which was sent abroad and the results came through after the termination.

This test, a high level cell culture, found that the baby did not have Trisomy18.

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In correspondence with lawyers for the family, the hospital yesterday said it was proposing that the RCOG would nominate external reviewers to look at the case.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Britain has told RTÉ News that it has not yet received a formal approach to undertake the review into the circumstances of the termination.

In a statement today, the RCOG said: "Should an approach be forthcoming, this will be considered in the usual way."

A spokesperson for the Minister for Health Simon Harris said that his overriding concern is for the couple involved and respecting their privacy.

The spokesperson said that the minister believes that an appropriate external review is warranted into the matters that arise and it is important to await its findings.

Caoimhe Haughey, solicitor for the couple, said they were utterly, mentally and physically devastated.

She said that their loss and sense of grief was interminable.

Ms Haughey told RTÉ News that the couple want answers and have been assisted by Dr Willie Reardon, a well-known clinical medical geneticist at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin in Dublin, with the questions that need to be answered.

She said they welcome the news that the RCOG is expected to be be involved in an investigation but they are treating the development with caution.

Ms Haughey said that the terms of reference need to be be decided, along with the membership and that there must be a genetics expert involved.

The Taoiseach has said the issue involving the National Maternity Hospital is "very distressing" and that his "heart goes out to the couple at centre of it".

Speaking in Galway, Leo Varadkar said it is a private and confidential matter and that he does not have access to the details.

He said the question of what checks and safeguards should be in place for the screening processes involved is "a question for the master of hospital".

Meanwhile, the Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin has said interpreting screening and diagnostic tests can be quite complex.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Professor Fergal Malone said he does not feel the case should undermine the public's confidence in such tests.

He said there are both screening tests and diagnostic tests for foetal abnormalities, and they get lots of questions from patients about how to interpret the results as it can sometimes be quite complex.

Prof Malone said the tests are very robust, and patients can be confident that they will get accurate advice on how to interpret the results.

He said one thing which should be kept in mind when interpreting a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) prenatal test is that it will test the placenta cells, whereas amniocentesis will test cells directly from the foetus.

"Sometimes the genetic profile of cells from the placenta are different from the genetic cells in the foetus. So it is possible that you may get discrepant results; cells from the placenta telling you one thing, while cells from the foetus are telling you another thing."

Prof Malone said the CVS test is generally considered very accurate.