October
03
 

Will Down Syndrome children become extinct?

More accurate and less invasive tests could spell the disappearance of Down Syndrome children, according to an article in Archives of Disease in Childhood. Dr Brian G. Skotko, of Children’s Hospital Boston, points out that current studies show that 92% of women in developed countries who receive a definitive prenatal diagnosis of DS choose to terminate their pregnancies.

As a consequence Down Syndrome children are vanishing. Because women are waiting longer before they have children and advanced maternal age is associated with increased chances of having a child with Down Syndrome, the birth incidence should climb. In fact, it has actually decreased.

In the US, without prenatal testing, there should have been a 34% increase in Down Syndrome children, largely because of older mothers. Instead, there has been a 15% decrease – or a 49% gap. In the UK, there is a 48% gap.

This trend is bound to continue, says Dr Skotko, especially where these tests become a normal part of prenatal care. He suggests that this poses a great ethical challenge for obstetricians. The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians opposes abortion because of the sex of a baby. However, it supports prenatal testing which effectively dooms Down Syndrome children – even though “parents who have children with Down syndrome have already found much richness in life with an extra chromosome”. ~ Archives of Disease in Childhood, published online June 15




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