The risks of testing

Fascinating numbers here.

Proof yet again of the economist\’s saw that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs.

The subject here is the always contentious one of abortion…..and Down\’s and testing for it. The tests themselves, specifically amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis, carries a risk of causing miscarriage.

A total of 366,000 women in England had one of the four tests last year. Of those, 18,300 were deemed high risk and 14,640 decided to then have an amniocentesis test. Those tests identified 1,112 babies with Down\’s and, in 92.8% of those cases, the woman had a termination.

The miscarriage risk is about 1%. So to find those 1,112, there are 140 or so who are not Down\’s who die in the process of finding the 1,112.

No comment from me on right or wrong here, just the observation that it really is true that there are only trade offs.

3 thoughts on “The risks of testing”

  1. We had the said test, as we were in a high risk group. Our private doctor, who stood to gain from performing the test, was very good about explaining the risks both ways.

  2. worth noting that the test can be taken at 32 weeks. There is still a 1% chance of a problem, but the problem is early birth, rather than losing the fetus. The law still allows a termination of a downs baby at this stage.

  3. I didn’t know that. That’s just bizarre. So what if the test triggers early birth but also gives a positive result and the parents want to abort?

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