Pre-birth Down's Syndrone detection.


  • http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=1207054&page=1

    The new prenatal technologies have given rise to attitudes new among medical professionals that only perfect babies will be acceptable upon birth.

    They are starting sounding like Eugenic Nazi doctors before WWII, especially if your incoming bundle of joy tested positive for Down’s Syndrome.

    Whatever happened to working towards cures? Is that not what doctors are supposed to do?


  • The triple testing screen has been around for quite a while. We offer it routinely to all parents at 16 weeks or so. It screens not only down’s, but other genetic defects/congenital abnormalities, alerts us to the presence of twins, a dead fetus, etc.

    Parents do not have to take the triple test, but most do (my experience is around 75% so far). Also we do not force them to take a test, nor do we force them to act in a specific way according to the results.

    Keep in mind that the vast majority of Down’s and other chromosomal abnormalities are washed out in the first trimester (and many of these even before the woman knows that she is pregnant). Is God destroying these children because they have Down’s etc.?

    Finally consider the life of most children with congenital/chromosomal abnormalities. Those that do make it alive have a very high risk for dying of heart failure or other disorders in the first few years of life. Some might consider it cruel to bring a child into the world to be subjected to this. Also consider the agony of the parents in making decisions around this.

    My point from all of this - referring to us as “Eugenic Nazi doctors” is impolite. At the same time, physicians should be giving parents all of the available information and not “pushing” our opinions on them.


  • My friend, who’s a bit older than me, had an amnio done, with the full intention of aborting if it picked up Down’s (or other catastrophic defects). I didn’t see a problem with this, though my own beliefs concerning reincarnation might be a factor 😉


  • “push for the cure”
    can you cure a chromosomal disorder? i dont mean that there isnt a cure yet, im asking if its possible to cure something on that level?


  • @Janus1:

    “push for the cure”
    can you cure a chromosomal disorder? i dont mean that there isnt a cure yet, im asking if its possible to cure something on that level?

    not yet.
    i don’t even see this being a near-future possibility (based on what i know about our current genetics/karyotypical technology).


  • attitudes … that only perfect babies will be acceptable upon birth.

    So how do they propose to define “perfect?” What might be considered a desirable trait by one person might be considered undesirable by another.

    Also, this quickly becomes a slippery slope as technology increases… suppose your baby has a 50/50 chance of being severly retarded? or mildly retarded? What about a 30/70 chance? or the rare 5% or 1% chance? Suppose further research shows the 50/50 chance was in reality only 5%? Would there be any regret for the aborted baby? For the missed opportunity for parenthood should the mother have become too old for childbirth after this event? And what happens if you have great difficulty becoming preganant, would these doctors recommend taking more of a chance for a mildly retarded baby?


  • Given a climate of “abortion for the sake of convenience”, i’m surprised that this is such a “controversy”. Until people stop aborting children simply because “it’s the wrong time”, i think that we can save some energy with regards to the debate about aborting for congenital usually-lethal and strikingly debilitating illnesses.


  • @Janus1:

    “push for the cure”
    can you cure a chromosomal disorder? i dont mean that there isnt a cure yet, im asking if its possible to cure something on that level?

    It used to be that babies born in the USA of a certain color were only valued at 60% of babies born of the acceptable color.

    Back then, color was considered and inherited defect.

    Technology has also advanced for improving vision, blood monitoring, immunology, diet, and hearing…etc… All formerly considered chromosomal defects.

    The bubble kids that were studied in in 80’s gave the pharmaceutical companies a 10 year jump start on drug therapies for AIDS. I read that from a the Annual report (1994?) for Genentech.

    Research for diabetes and asthma has lead to inhalative medical delivery systems for vaccines and other drugs. It started there, and if not for the growing market of defectively born, we would be several years behind on that area.

    The timing of technology is tricky. But breakthroughs almost always require a lead time. A lot of research these days require more time than money.

    My own family has several medical conditions, and someday they may have the treatments at an affordable level.


  • CC wrote:

    Given a climate of “abortion for the sake of convenience”, i’m surprised that this is such a “controversy”.

    Well, while in the US abortion is legal, not everyone believes this is the right thing to do. I’ve seen numerous polls, but basically its about 50/50 in the US. Furthermore, with things such as partial birth abortion, you find that there are very few supporters. I’ve heard statements about “post-birth abortions” 😮 :evil: 😢 See for example:

    http://www.lifenews.com/bio589.html
    http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/12/01/netherlands.mercykill/
    http://washingtontimes.com/world/20041130-100130-5165r.htm
    http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2004/12/postbirth_abort.html

    Kind of chilling to me that this is even considered anywhere. I’m waiting for abortion proponents to suggest this here in the US, it will certainly happen if Americans ever come to accept partial birth abortions.


  • 221b - AFAIK partial-birth abortions are permitted in the US - at least within certain realms (not in Canada yet - even Mortgentaler - the king of the pro-choice movement - believes that abortion after 18-odd weeks is murder).

    w.r.t. the articles you posted - its hard to figure out what exactly they are talking about.
    We have had newbirths on the unit that were taken off of life-support a few times. It is a sad process, but it really only happens when it is understood that the child has already died. At the same time, we never actually “killed” any of these children.

    Finally - w.r.t. euthanasia - this should be debated in a separate topic. I have a problem with “pain” being a reason to kill people. IMO we need to work on our palliative care methods. I wonder if the Dutch are just behind the 8-ball on this one . . . .

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