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Down Syndrome Births Decline

The news that Down syndrome births have unexpectedly decreased is causing mixed reactions among both doctors and parents. Though 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome, the most common genetic condition in the U.S., the number of Down births has actually decreased 15 percent between 1989 and 2005, according to pediatric geneticist Brian Skotko. The decrease is contrary to research from Skotko that suggests that Down births should have increased by 34 percent during this same period. While the news is technically good, it is also indicative of the fact that around 92 percent of women who learn that their prenatal offspring have the condition, which causes retardation and slow development, choose to have abortions. Some parents call the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome a “gift,” and worry that parents who choose to terminate Down syndrome pregnancies are making their decision based on inaccurate myths surrounding the disorder. The decline also raises fears that research funding for the congenital condition will decrease.