Monday, August 1, 2011

Downs Syndrome: Treat with drugs or abortion or accept them as is?

[....]“This was a disorder for which it was believed there was no hope, no treatment, and people thought, Why waste your time?” says Craig C. Garner, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and co-director of the Center for Research and Treatment of Down Syndrome at Stanford University. “The last 10 years have seen a revolution in neuroscience, so that we now realize that the brain is amazingly plastic, very flexible, and systems can be repaired.” 

But the effects of that revolution on Down research may yet be cut short. A competing set of scientists are on the cusp of achieving an entirely different kind of medical response to Down syndrome: rather than treat it, they promise to prevent it. They have developed noninvasive, prenatal blood tests which would allow for routine testing for Down syndrome in the first trimester of a pregnancy, raising the specter that many more parents would terminate an affected pregnancy. Some predict that one of the new tests could be available to the public within the year.[...]

Not all parents of children with Down syndrome embrace Costa’s vision of a medical treatment targeting intelligence. In a recent survey conducted in Canada, parents were asked what they would do if there was a “cure” for their child’s Down syndrome. A surprising 27 percent said they would definitely not use it, and another 32 percent said they were unsure.  [...]

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