In the first study of its kind, the grand majority of families with members who have the genetic disorder Down Syndrome reported happiness. From MSNBC.com:
Among 2,044 parents or guardians surveyed, 79 percent reported their outlook on life was more positive because of their child with Down syndrome
This is particularly relevant as a new blood test to determine Down syndrome early in pregnancy is expected to be available within months.
The story opened up with Melissa Reilly, who not only has Down syndrome but is a Special Olympian who brings home gold medals in skiing, cycling and swimming, and also interns for a Massachusetts state senator. This story is worth a read as it not only shows how accomplished people with Down Syndrome can be and the positive effect they have on their families, but also introduces the controversy around prenatal genetic testing for Down.
Thousands of women a year opt to terminate pregnancies when their unborn child has Down syndrome. Some estimates put that number as high as 90 percent, according to Boston’s Children’s Hospital.
But soon, the first non-invasive and inexpensive blood test will allow pregnant women to know if their fetus has Down syndrome in the early weeks of pregnancy. The test, expected to hit market later this fall, detects fetal DNA in a mother’s bloodstream.
Bioethicist Art Caplan says the ease of this test raises the possibility that Down syndrome will slowly disappear from our society.
Skotko, the genetics researcher, also has a 31-year-old sister with Down syndrome. He says she is the inspiration for his practice and research on the condition and that it’s critical for families to receive accurate and unbiased information, and they should know raising a child with Down syndrome can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.
I am glad that Skotko is getting the word out. Why is there so much fear around people with Down Syndrome?