Only 51 per cent of pregnant women surveyed had undertaken the new screening test for Down syndrome and other chromosomal anomalies in their first trimester.
The new test, introduced in 2010, involves a blood test and an ultrasound scan, rather than just an ultrasound.
The research was conducted in Canterbury between February 2009 and January 2010, before the new screening test was in place, and between May 2010 and April 2011, after it was introduced.
The data showed only 51 per cent of women had undertaken the new screening test after it was introduced.
The study’s authors – among them obstetricians, gynaecologists and midwives at Canterbury DHB – said they had expected a higher rate of uptake.
“We anticipated that there would be a high uptake of screening by women in Canterbury,” the report said.
“This study does not assess the reason for the low level of uptake; for example whether women are informed and chose not to undertake the screen or whether they are not aware of this offer.”