Drs told to offer mums screen for intellectual disabilities

DOCTORS have been told to offer screening for a syndrome causing intellectual disabilities - including autism - to all women who are pregnant or planning to have children.

The genetic test for fragile X syndrome - the leading cause of inherited intellectual disability - costs as little as $100, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Experts have called for Australian guidelines to be overhauled so the option of testing for fragile X syndrome is routinely discussed with women in the same way mothers are screened for cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy.

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute has recommended the overhaul after their research found women did not suffer "psychological harm" when they were offered the test with ­counselling.

The screening is currently only recommended for women with a family history of the syndrome because of concerns about how mothers would be affected by knowing they carry the gene.