Down Syndrome Births Drop With Prenatal Testing Advances
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 8, 2006
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE--The rate of children born with Down syndrome in the U.S. has declined sharply in recent decades, even though women are choosing to have children later in life -- a well-known risk factor for giving birth to a child with Down syndrome.
Research conducted by Dr. James Egan chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Connecticut Health Center has found that only about one-half of the expected numbers of babies with Down syndrome were born in 2001, reflecting a downward trend that started in the 1980s.
"What we would expect to see is the number of Down syndrome births increasing because women are waiting longer to have children and that's not what we found," said Egan. "The reproductive population was getting older, and yet we were seeing fewer Down syndrome births."
While Eagan and other researchers were quick to point out that the research did not show why so few were born, many have pointed to improvements in technology designed to screen for Down syndrome in the womb. In fact, other studies have shown that about 85 percent of pregnant women who learn their baby will have Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy, according to a story in the Nashville Tennessean.
In some countries where prenatal screening can identify Down syndrome earlier in the pregnancy, the rate of children born with Down syndrome has dropped to a number below the number born with it.
"To me it's scary," Andrew Imparato, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities, told the Tennessean. "It's like trying to create a master race."
The rate of babies born with Down syndrome has not declined as sharply in the state of Tennessee. Some experts speculate this has to do with religious upbringing, along with the lack of prenatal testing available to expectant mothers in rural areas.
Down Syndrome births drop in state (Nashville Tennessean)