May 28, 2024

UK doctors fibbing about Down syndrome, says expert

Trying to spare feelings of women

Studies have shown that 92% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted in the UK each year, much the same as in the US and Australia. However government statistics show that the number of babies aborted because of Down syndrome was only 436 in 2008 and 2,168 between 2004 and 2008. There seems to be a mismatch.

A national Down’s registering group, the National Down’s Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR), now claims that government statistics under-report Down syndrome abortions by more than 100%. The true figures, it says, are 1,032 and 4,777 respectively.

Why the discrepancy? British doctors are telling fibs when they fill out the paperwork. According to experts interviewed by the Daily Mail, they are trying to spare women’s feelings at aborting a disabled child by recording them as “social” abortions, which accounts for most terminations in the UK.

The director of the NDSCR, Professor Joan Morris, said “The Department of Health’s figures on Down’s terminations are wholly inaccurate. We don’t know for sure why the abortion forms are so badly filled in, but we know our figures are right because we chase up every single diagnosis which we are notified about, giving us a 94% accuracy rate. Our register is important because it gives a clear picture of what is happening in terms of the trends for Down’s, and ensures that proper health care provision can be made for the babies born.”

And the well-known British obstetrician, Professor Stuart Campbell, commented: “Whether it is due to doctors trying to protect the feelings of women having an abortion for Down’s or simply being slapdash, the fact that official figures on abortion are so inaccurate is a great concern.”

A spokesman for Department of Health spokesman told the Daily Mail that “The department takes the monitoring of the Abortion Act very seriously.”

The National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register, which is probably the largest single dataset on Down syndrome in the world, is funded by government until March 2010. The researchers are urgently seeking more funding to continue a 20-year survey of Down syndrome children. “When we close,” says Professor Morris, “there will be no way of getting accurate data, as you cannot rely on Government statistics.” ~ Daily Mail, Nov 10;

Michael Cook
Down syndrome