Testing times: do new prenatal tests signal the end of Down syndrome?

Robert Cole, Gareth Jones
New Zealand Medical Journal 2013 March 1, 126 (1370): 96-102
Since 2010, prenatal screening for Down syndrome (DS) has been offered to all pregnant women in New Zealand. The programme has been criticised by several groups, on claims that screening is eugenic and discriminatory towards those with DS. Recently, tests have been developed that may one day prove more efficient than current screening methods. They are an example of 'Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis' (NIPD), which enables diagnosis earlier in pregnancy with less risk of complications. If the current programme raises objections, what threats does this new and seemingly more attractive technology pose to the DS community? We argue that NIPD is simply an extension of current screening methods, raising similar ethical concerns. Presently, the programme shows little evidence of 'eugenics', demonstrated by moderate uptake rates and varying attitudes towards disability. We do not regard the offer of screening to be threatening, as women choose whether or not to be screened depending on their own personal circumstances. One day, prenatal testing may result in fewer people with DS; but past and present trends indicate these individuals will continue to be supported, irrespective of 'group size'. Care and respect for the disabled will remain essential, regardless of a woman's decision over her pregnancy.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.