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Down’s syndrome test has led to sharp drop in birth rates

February 2020

Don’t screen us out campaign, 2018
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The number of Down’s syndrome babies carried to term has dropped by nearly one-third in the space of just four years, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.

Campaigners from the Don’t Screen Us Out group issued a series of FOI requests, which showed that the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome dropped by 30 per cent between 2013 and 2017 in those National Health Service (NHS) hospitals that introduced the test.

As a result, the campaigners called on the Government to stop the roll-out of the Non-Invasive prenatal test (NIPT) on the NHS, as the figures strongly suggest more women are choosing to abort their children for having a chromosome abnormality.

According to the data, the 26 hospital trusts that provided NIPT saw a change in the birth rate for babies with Down’s syndrome from 1 in 956 births (0.11 percent) in 2013 to 1 in 1,368 (0.07 percent) in 2017, which equates to a 30 per cent drop in the birth rate.

An open letter signed by 900 people with Down’s syndrome and their families was delivered to the Government earlier this year, demanding that approval of the implementation be delayed until a proper consultation with the community and a full ethical review of the proposed implementation.

Moreover, a parliamentary motion was signed by 34 MPs across the benches in support of the community of people with Down’s syndrome, asking for a consultation and ethical review of the proposed roll-out of the tests.

Lynn Murray, a spokesperson for the Don’t Screen Us Out campaign, told reporters, ‘As a mother of a 19-year-old daughter who has Down’s syndrome, I see every day the unique value she brings to our family and the positive impact she has on others around her.

‘The figures show the fears of the Down’s syndrome community – that rolling out these tests would lead to a large drop in the number of babies with Down’s syndrome – were not unfounded’.

Ms Murray said the campaign group wanted the Government to call a halt to preparations to further roll-out the tests on the NHS, and to undertake an urgent inquiry into the impact that these tests are having on birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.

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