Younger women are availing themselves of safe, easy ways to screen for chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome, according to new research conducted by British researchers. Because Down syndrome is more common in babies born to older mothers, many younger women had previously tended to avoid screening because of concerns over invasive tests like amniocentesis. More on the new study from the researchers:
New figures from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR) based at Queen Mary University of London, reveal the proportion of Down syndrome cases diagnosed antenatally has increased in younger women. Furthermore, Down syndrome diagnoses are occurring earlier in pregnancy for women of all ages.
The NDSCR is the only national source of data on pre and postnatal diagnoses of Down, Patau and Edwards syndrome cases in England and Wales. The latest figures are captured in the new NDSCR Annual Report 2012.
Key findings from the report (all figures from 2012):
- There were 1,982 diagnoses of Down syndrome, 64% of which were made during pregnancy.
- There were an estimated 775 babies born with Down syndrome (an increase from 739 in 2011 and 734 in 2010).
- The proportion of women under 35 receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome during pregnancy has increased from 54% in 2008 to 66% in 2012. The proportion for women 35 and over remained constant at 71% from 2008 to 2012.
- The proportion of women receiving a diagnoses of Down syndrome during pregnancy after screening in the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester) increased from 45% in 2008 to 77% in 2012 for women under 35 and from 68% in 2008 to 80% of 2012 for women 35 and over.
- The proportion of women having a termination after a diagnosis of Down syndrome during pregnancy has decreased from 92% in 1989-2010 to 90% in 2011-12.