Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Interesting Article in Yesterdays Times

This caught my attention in yesterdays Irish Times 07/10/08. That said while it is of interest now I am the proud father of a child with DS my (personal) feelings on testing are somewhat mixed.

Safer Prenatal Blood Test found for Down Syndrome

WASHINGTON – A prenatal blood test can be used to determine if an unborn baby has Down syndrome without the small risk to the foetus posed by invasive testing methods such as amniocentesis, US researchers said yesterday.

Researchers led by Stephen Quake of Stanford University in California created a way to look for the extra chromosomes that cause Down syndrome and similar birth detects in the tiny amounts of foetal DNA that circulate in the mother’s blood.

The test, which requires a small blood sample from the mother, is safer than amniocentesis, in which a needle is inserted into the uterus, and can be done earlier in a pregnancy.

Down syndrome, which causes mental retardation and other problems, is caused when a child has three copies instead of the normal two of chromosome 21. The test also detects other chromosomal conditions such as Edward syndrome, which kills half of babies in the first week of life and Patau syndrome, which kills more than 80 per cent of children in infancy.

Mr Quake’s team demonstrated the accuracy of the new genetic test in a small study involving 18 women. It accurately identified the nine women with a Down syndrome pregnancy and three others with foetuses with different chromosomal disorders, according to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s the first universal, noninvasive test for Downs syndrome. So this should be the first step in putting an end to invasive testing procedures like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, Mr Quake said. – (Reuters)

© 2008 The Irish Times


Nick McGivney said...

Divisive. I would never assume the right to tell anyone how to think, but I'm happy to throw my thruppence in. Having a test per se is everyone's right - and I think ultimately the mum's choice. It can be beneficial and preparatory for all sorts of positive things. My biggest fear? That it will be preparatory for more abortions of beautiful kids carrying chromosomal differences. It's not a brave new world in my eyes. It's a sadistic and selfish one, I fear. In countries like the UK and US, where Ds terminations are already in the high nineties, it is NOT good news to my ears.

Sorry. Got on me soapbox again. On a lighter note, feel free to drop in and pick up your present...

Nan P. said...

Well now, South Dublin Dad, this is a tricky subject, on which I have newly acquired yet very strong views – and please bear in mind they are only my views, for what they are worth!

First, the Right to Know is a Fundamental Right (and for both parents, Nick). The fact that it is not automatically given in this country came to my attention only after Cathal’s birth and appalled me. I do not wish on any one what some parents go through during the very emotionally delicate moments following the birth of their child – you know what I mean, you have been there...

Second, once the parent(s) decide to avail of this Right to Know, everything that is medically possible should be done to make sure it is painless, stress-free, and above all safe for both mother and baby.

Third, in my humble opinion, the “right to know” has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with abortion. These are two separate things... Two sets of choices, very personal choices. However, I am not na├»ve, and (I agree with Nick here) I am acutely aware that one may be seen as the result of the other.

(As a matter of interest, you might check a couple of entries last month on Elbog’s blog, (Bittersweet) there was an interesting exchange on this topic).

Lastly, thank you for posting this... I feel there is no harm in reviving this debate from time to time :-)

Nan P. said...

Hello South Dublin Dad,

Can you please check my blog? I posted yesterday about Texting a SHOUT. It's another way to give little Ava a voice in the future. It would be great if you could put the picture and the link on your own bog.... Just a suggestion you might be interested in ;-)