Thursday, December 11, 2008

Down syndrome

If you've been fooled by the news going around a couple of weeks ago that more children are born with Down syndrome, hence fewer must be aborted, hence we must be a more caring society than we used to be, read Ben Goldacre's debunking of the story here.

It's blindingly obvious, of course: as women are older on average when they conceive, more Down embryos are produced, and more are aborted -- compared to that increase the increase in live births with the syndrome is minimal. Very depressing how many media echoed the story without thinking.


Anonymous said...

The number of children born with down syndrome is on the rise evidenced by the number of live births. The aging population of mothers is definitely a factor in the increase of births. However, I do not see how Goldacre debunked the theory that there is greater acceptance of children with the condition. The medical community is on a mission to diagnosis the condition. Older mothers are routinely given testing for down syndrome and they are obviously choosing to have their children. This is in marked contrast to Denmark where the number of children born with Down syndrome has fallen 50% in the same time period. Goldacre makes no mention of the fact that the number of live births of children with down syndrome is on the increase in England, while it is fifty percent less in Denmark for the same time period. I think we could surmise that England is indeed a more caring nation (the original thesis that Goldacre attempts to debunk), especially in light of the statistics from Denmark. Goldacres argument falls flat.

Michael said...

If we were more accepting, there should be more than twice as many live births. As there are only a few percent more, it shows that a lot more are getting aborted than there used to be.

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