My granddaughter Lucy is 6 years old and is part of a class of people that is quietly being eliminated in my country. She has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that frightens so many women that 92 percent of those who learn they are carrying babies with it choose to abort.
Dr. Brian Skotko, a genetics fellow at Children’s Hospital, fears this number will rise. Prenatal tests are invasive, carry a risk to the fetus, and are given in the second trimester, so many women choose not to have them. But a simple new and non-invasive blood test, to be given early in a woman’s pregnancy, is coming, perhaps as early as next year.
“As new tests become available, will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?’’ Skotko ponders in a soon-to-be-published article in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, (a British medical journal) available online now.