April 12, 2024

Will Down Syndrome children become extinct?

92% of women abort Down Syndrome children
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

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

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

Down syndrome

2 thoughts on “Will Down Syndrome children become extinct?

  1. The saddest aspect of this article is the implication that Downs syndrome children should not exist.

    All the breast beating about equality in the world will not hide the attitudes inherent in organisations such as The American College of Gynecologists.

    Equality is the acceptance that people are different, but this organisation clearly see’s them as a group that should not exist, a disease to be eradicated. We will never have true equality while we continue to regard Down’s Syndrome children in such an archaic fashion.

    Even worse is the fact that this organisation thinks that their attitude represents some form of enlightenment.

  2. The headline to this story makes the usual attention grabbing exagerations. If 8% of women in developed countries with a definite prenatal diagnosis of Downs Syndrome do not choose to abort, this means that Downs Syndrome people will not become extinct. If you add to that the numbers of women who make an informed choice not to have testing, this will be higher still. 8% is still a long way from ‘extinction’; furthermore hopefully with increasing acceptance and increasing life chances for Downs syndrome people, they may become more visible in mainstream life. Which will be enriching for all of us.

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