Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Washington Post reports that technology is being developed that allows genetic testing for Down Syndrome to occur earlier in pregnancy and with more accuracy. Two contrasing perspectives in the article:
"For 50 years, folks have been working to develop a noninvasive genetic test for Down syndrome," said Sequenom chief executive Harry Stylii. "People have described it as the Holy Grail of genetic testing. We are on the cusp of delivering that."
It's a "Holy Grail" with some ominous implications, of course:
"We have a nation of physicians who are unprepared for explaining a diagnosis of Down syndrome," said Brian Skotko, a physician at Children's Hospital in Boston who works with the National Down Syndrome Society. "Many overemphasize the negative consequences or outright urge women to terminate their pregnancies."
Skotko, whose sister has Down syndrome, predicted such tests would result in fewer babies being born with the condition. "Every day my sister teaches me lots of life lessons -- to laugh when others are mocking me, to keep on trying when obstacles are thrown my way," he said. "If there were a world with fewer people with Down syndrome, I think the world would miss all these important lessons."