Down Syndrome on Decline as Moms Abort

Trend bucks statistics, raises fears that funding will dry up
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2009 1:26 PM CST
Sarah and Todd Palin hold their baby boy, Trig, in Anchorage, Alaska. Palin's fifth child was born April 18 with Down syndrome.   (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
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(Newser) – With women waiting longer to have children, the number of Down syndrome cases in the US ought to be on the rise—advanced maternal age increases Down syndrome risk. But instead it fell 15% from 1989 to 2005, ABC News reports. The reason: prenatal screenings. Roughly 92% of women who received a prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome terminated the pregnancy, according to research from one Boston geneticist.

Were it not for the prenatal screenings, the geneticist estimates that the number of Down births would have spiked 34%. Down syndrome advocates worry that the trend will hurt funding for research into the condition, and say parents are depriving themselves of the “gift” of raising such a child. “Women have their own choice, but they don't realize what they have given up,” says one mother. “What if we don't like brown eyes anymore?”