Testing for Down\’s Syndrome

This really only confirms something that was less widely known already.

Two healthy babies are miscarried for every three Down\’s Syndrome babies that are detected and prevented from being born, research has suggested.

The tests themselves carry a risk of causing a miscarriage. But given that the vast majority of those having the tests are not carrying a Down\’s Syndrome child, the risks of causing a miscarriage to a non-Downs are almost as high as the number of Down\’s discovered.

Long known but rarely point out this.

7 thoughts on “Testing for Down\’s Syndrome”

  1. My wife had a scan in January (the baby is fine).
    I was surprised that although I could calculate that the definite test for Down syndrome was more likely to do harm for good in our case. The Doctor did not recommend this – they just waited for me to calculate it and then they agreed with me !
    If I had been inumerate the baby would have had problems.

  2. Key parts:

    The NHS cites a miscarriage rate of between one and two per cent following the tests, but the researchers, from the charity Down’s Syndrome Education International…

    Although they admit that their ratio is only an estimate, they are backed by a number of independent experts who fear inexperienced practitioners may also be to blame.
    Shills for pro-Down’s movement find that Downs testing is bad – who’d have thunk it?

  3. Actually, there are (at least) a couple of issues here that need more thorough consideration after agreeing that the risk involved in CVS testing was well known, hence it was only offered to parents in high risk groups and after an apparent positive result on a low-risk test and with DJ regarding the generic and specific problems with sponsored research (especially in arenas where morals, ethics or belief systems are involved.)

    Firstly, they are clearly missing out an important group, which Sarah Palin might belong to – those parents who get the test, find out that the fetus is Downs and make appropriate preparations for looking after it when it is born.

    Secondly, the blood test appears to be suffering from the classic Bayesian theory result that even tests with good discrimination are going to throw an excessive number of false positives if the actual condition is relatively rare in the sample population. This is clearly exacerbated by the relatively high chance of catastrophic consequences of the follow-up confirmation test procedure (i.e. the claimed / estimated miscarriage of healthy babies after CVS.)

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Mr Potarto – “It’s not a life and it’s not a baby. It’s a foetus.”

    You say potarto, I say potarto.

    It is a potential, at worst, life and it is a baby.

    However I agree that statistics from advocacy groups are dubious at the best of times.

  5. Potarto:

    A foetus is alive. Nobody doubts that.

    “Baby” is somewhat poorly defined in common usage – some include foetuses (foeti?) and some do not.

    Whether or not a foetus is a person is a matter of some dispute. Generally speaking it isn’t, although there have been cases in the US (and possibly UK) where scumbags who attack pregnant women have been convicted of the murder of an unborn child, which blurs the line somewhat.

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