Sarah Itoh, a self-described “almost-eleven-and-a-half,” betrayed no trace of nervousness as she told a roomful of genetic counselors and obstetricians about herself one recent afternoon.
She likes to read, she said. Math used to be hard, but it is getting easier. She plays clarinet in her school band. She is a junior girl scout and an aunt, and she likes to organize, so her room is very clean. Last year, she won three medals in the Special Olympics.
I am so lucky I get to do so many things,” she concluded. “I just want you to know, even though I have Down syndrome, it is O.K.”
Sarah’s appearance at Henry Ford Hospital here is part of an unusual campaign being undertaken by parents of children with Down syndrome who worry about their future in the face of broader prenatal testing that could sharply reduce the number of those born with the genetic condition.
Until this year, only pregnant women 35 and older were routinely tested to see if their fetuses had the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome. As a result many couples were given the diagnosis only at birth. But under a new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctors have begun to offer a new, safer screening procedure to all pregnant women, regardless of age.
Would you have guessed 90%? I'm flabbergasted. . . Particularly because this statistic comes from the NY Times, which is not exactly known for its pro-life advocacy. Elsewhere in the article we read such tidbits as:
Genetic counselors, who often give test results to prospective parents, say they need to respect patients who may have already made up their minds to terminate their pregnancy. Suggesting that they read a flyer or spend a day with a family [to learn what Down syndrome children are really like], they say, can unnecessarily complicate what is for many a painful and time-pressured decision.