The number of babies born with Down Syndrome in the UK has halved since the introduction of controversial prenatal screening tests for the condition, according to a new study.
The report, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, found that the number Down Syndrome births in the UK fell by 54 per cent between 2011 and 2015. Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) was introduced to the UK in 2012 and is claimed to have 99 per cent accuracy in diagnosing Down’s.
However, the test is highly controversial, with many critics pointing out it is discriminative and warning that it could lead to the eradication of the Down community and play a part in a chilling rise in eugenics.
“Countries that are grappling with funding decisions for NIPS should certainly be having deep discussions about its impact on the country’s Down’s syndrome population,” said Dr Brian Skotko, who co-authored the study.
The warning comes as UK healthcare groups released new guidelines advising advise healthcare workers how to behave when they are carry out prenatal tests for Down Syndrome, Edwards’ Syndrome and Patau’s Syndrome, after some parents whose babies had been identified as having a higher chance of one of these conditions had reported that they had been asked repeatedly if they want further diagnostic tests or an abortion.
Picture: Heidi Crowter and Alfie. (Don’t Screen Us Out).