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Thursday 20th October 2016

Screening for Down's miscarriage warning

17th September 2008

A charity claims that Down’s syndrome testing leads to an unjustifiable number of healthy foetuses being miscarried.

Down Syndrome Education International said that for every three foetuses found to have the condition, two healthy ones are miscarried.

Screening for Down’s Syndrome is offered to pregnant women but the more invasive tests for those at higher risk - such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, both of which use a needle to take tissue or fluid from inside the womb – can cause miscarriage.

Babies with Down’s often have learning difficulties and can have heart problems although many people with Down's can live semi-independently.

The charity’s analysis indicates that on average, screening confirms 660 foetuses with Down's every year in the UK with many women opting to abort the pregnancy.

Its chief executive Frank Buckley said that many women misunderstood the risks involved in the tests and were not necessarily making an informed choice.

He added: "It's not as clean and effective as everyone likes to make out - there should be much more thorough debate about these tests."

But the Down's Syndrome Association was critical of the research.

Professor Jennifer Wishart said: "The 'two for three' approach taken in the DownsEd research is unfortunate and unhelpful to ongoing debates about screening.

"There has never been any dispute that current diagnostic techniques have associated risk and that women need to be better and fully informed of these risks."

The Department of Health said ante-natal screening aimed to offer women the information they needed to make the right choice.


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