News – Down’s syndrome

ET staff writer
ET staff writer
01 January, 2010 1 min read

Down’s syndrome

A controversial medical breakthrough, which aims to help pregnant mothers see whether their unborn babies have Down’s syndrome, has been met with strong resistance by pro-life groups.

As reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), new tests can discover genetic anomalies leading to Down’s syndrome in foetuses at a much earlier age. However, there is a 3 per cent error margin in the testing – which could mean that three out of every 100 babies that are terminated will have been completely healthy and free from the condition.

According to the BMJ, because more women are waiting until their 30s to have a child, the risk of Down’s syndrome increases significantly. As a result, 90 per cent of women who are told their baby has Down’s syndrome will abort. The research shows that 1100 babies in England and Wales are aborted each year – an increase from 1989-1990, where abortion figures were at 300.

Pro-life groups and support organisations have pleaded for greater counselling to help parents make the right decision. Phyllis Bowman, director of pro-life charity Right to Life, said too many people do not appreciate the value of a child with Down’s syndrome. Speaking in the Daily Telegraph, she said: ‘People are frightened by the images of the condition that are portrayed. Too many people are presupposing that people with Down’s syndrome have no value’.

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