The British Medical Journal recently published research regarding a non-invasive pre-natal test for Down syndrome. Professor Dennis Lo of the Chinese University of Hong Kong is working on a risk free DNA test that will detect a baby’s genetic code by gene sequencing through a mother’s blood sample. Doctors speculate the test will replace amniocentesis and CVS (chorionic villus sampling) currently administered in the States.
The medical community largely is excited about a simpler test. Amniocentesis and CVS are both invasive procedures that typically carry a small risk for infection and miscarriage. But others are leery of the possible ramifications of the test for society. Specifically, some moms and dads of children with special needs are concerned. Will more parents opt for the non-invasive test? Will more parents make quick decisions to terminate? Will the medical field be prepared to provide accurate information about Down syndrome? Three mothers of children with Down syndrome who actively advocate for their children from across the United States voice their concerns.
Amy Armstrong, mom to five year old Larkin who has Down syndrome and founder of Larkin’s Place out of Champaign, Illinois, is afraid society is trying too hard to control the kind of children we produce. (Amy’s blog: www.momologist.com)
“I have the compassion to understand why others would want to be given a choice through this test. However, I also know that the power of choice and knowledge can be burdensome. Eventually man is going to realize that we are not in control of anything in regard to our children.”
Jennifer Schrad, a mother from Pennsylvania who blogs about her daughter Sophie at ReJenerations, thinks doctors need to be prepared with up-to-date, accurate information about individuals with Down syndrome.
“The Down syndrome community has a big job ahead of us to require doctors and genetic counselors to give accurate information, not just a laundry list of frightening statistics and implicit or implied pressure to terminate the pregnancy.”
Diane Grover, mom to Mary Ellen and active participant in IDSC For Life (International Down Syndrome Coalition For Life) worries that fewer children with Down syndrome will be born.
“Am I afraid there will be fewer children who happen to have Down syndrome? Most definitely. This test comes at an early point in pregnancy when it is much easier for a parent to justify terminating.”
The DNA test is still in stages of validation. It is speculated to become available in the United States within the next year.
Enjoy this article? Click submit at the top of the page to read more from Gillian Marchenko, Chicago Special Needs Parent Examiner.