Down syndrome

    Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that is highly determined by the age at which the mother conceives a child. Increase in age increases risk of having a baby with Down syndrome (Crane  Morris, 2006). As such, it is of importance to have accurate screening tests in order to understand likely risks during pregnancy. In addition, it is important to know reasons why these trends exist in able to counter Down syndrome effectively (Hall et al, 2007). The understanding of how advances in screening Down syndrome have grown and the steps taken by mothers who screen positive has piqued interest in this topic. As such, the paper looks into the article screening and antenatal diagnosis of Downs syndrome by Stephanie Brunner published in Medical News Today on 27, October 2009. This is compared with the journal article Wrongful deaths and rightful lives-screening for Down syndrome by Frank Buckley and Sue Buckley, a 2008 publication in Down Syndrome Research and Practice journal, volume 12, issue number 2. 

Summary of Medical News Today article
    The article presents a report from the British Medical Journal showing an increase in mothers diagnosed of Down syndrome as from 1989 to 2008. The percentage of women aged 37 years and below who choose screening increased by 40 percent. The proportion of older women opting for screening however remained almost constant over the same time period. Increase in diagnosis was attributed to the rising number of elderly mothers.

    The article also notes that even though diagnosis and screening has increased, there was a drop in the number of children born with Down syndrome. This was due to the fact that most women choose to terminate the pregnancy whereas others underwent antenatal screening. The article raises the question of why older women chosen did not opt for testing yet they are at greater risk of bearing children with Down syndrome. The article therefore notes that reluctance to testing in older women means a continued risk of Down syndrome children in the population (Bruner, 2009). 

Journal findings
    Buckley  Buckley (2008) use the same data as that used to present the findings in Brunners article i.e. data from National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR). The article acknowledges that there has been an increase in Down syndrome births despite an increase in antenatal screening awareness and an increase in live births. England and Wales has had screening policies over the time span which has led to a decrease in live births by 44 percent. Increase in number of older mothers has been noted just like in Brunners article. The most interesting finding is that Down syndrome screening in England and Wales cause a reduction of live births every year and a significant majority (400 out of 660) of babies lost usually do not have Down syndrome. The research therefore concludes that screening tests applied are highly responsible thus proposing for screening during the first trimester. The two articles therefore show that screening has led to reduced Down syndrome births due to increased screening and termination of pregnancies but Buckleys and Buckleys article warns that termination of pregnancies lead to loss of Down syndrome free children thus calling for a revision of the screening tests.

    The article by Buckleys and Buckleys is based on scientific methods as it includes actual research, has a literature review, analyses secondary data from NDSCR to come up with its findings. The article is sufficiently detailed. This is unlike Brunners article that is simply reporting findings by a research body. Brunners article is however easy to understand and interesting as it directly presents synthesized information. The two articles are however important since they help in bringing the same message clearer. While Buckleys and Bucklys article provides a scientific reasoning behind increase in down syndrome diagnosis and decrease in live births, the other article presents the same information in a simpler and more direct manner.

    The understanding of the trends in screening and diagnosis is of Down syndrome is important in making decisions regarding reducing Down syndrome births. It is however important to make sure that termination of pregnancies gives the least room for false positives.


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