Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More on Prenatal Testing

Here again the question of a vanishing line has arisen (see previous post on the issue), but now the risk is presented physically rather than solely mentally. Truly how many of the other invasive tests and procedures are necessary when it comes to the well being of our unborn children, in addition, how many of these everyday procedures have had harmful side effects without our knowledge? Just something to continue pondering. Thank you Colleen for bringing this article to my attention. Also below is a preceding and connected article that briefly addresses the subject matter.

160 Healthy Babies Lost for Every 50 Down's Cases Detected with Amniocentesis

Hilary White

LONDON, August 21, 2007

The risks of amniocentesis to the unborn child have long been known but now a new analysis by a British doctor has shown that using the tests in seek-and-destroy missions for Down's syndrome and other genetic
abnormalities results in the deaths of hundreds of healthy babies every year in Britain.

Dr. Hylton Meire, the retired physician and author of texts on ultrasound, calculates that for every 50 children with Down's Syndrome successfully identified and killed by abortion, 160 non-affected babies are lost by miscarriage after the test. His paper, published in the Journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society, mainly emphasizes that the non-invasive test, called the foetal 'nuchal thickness' measurement, is not as useful as is widely thought because of the high incidents of false positives it gives.

In obstetrics, it is now standard practice to offer pregnant women the non-invasive test that measures the fluid at the back of the child's neck. Combined with the age of the mother, the test results in a number taken to indicate the possibility that the child has Down's. If the number is high enough, the mother is offered an
amniocentesis, a test in which a needle is inserted into the abdomen and a sample of amniotic fluid is drawn off and analyzed.

With about one in every 1000 children conceived having Down’s syndrome, and with amniocentesis carrying a one in 200 risk of miscarriage, Dr. Meire, wrote in the Journal Ultrasound that if all pregnant women took the amniocentesis test as many as 3,200 healthy babies could die by miscarriage every year.

There are about 30,000 amniocentesis tests done every year in the UK.

In North America, earlier this year, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) has recommended that all pregnant
women, not just those over 35, should be screened, including with amniocentesis.

All Pregnant Women Should “Screen” for Down’s Syndrome – American and Canadian Ob Gyn Colleges

Hilary White

OTTAWA, January 11, 2007

Canadian group admits screening intended to give women option to abort child with Down’s Syndrome

In the same month, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are recommending that all pregnant women, not just those over 35, should be screened, including with invasive procedures such as amniocentesis, to discover whether they have a risk of bearing a child with Down’s Syndrome.

While the ACOG media release does not directly mention abortion as the usual fate of the “screened” babies, a SOGC official readily admits that the Canadian recommendation was specifically intended to give women the option to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome.

“Yes, it's going to lead to more termination, but it's going to be fair to these women who are 24 who say, 'How come I have to raise an infant with Down's syndrome, whereas my cousin who was 35 didn't have to?’” Dr. Andre Lalonde, the executive vice president of the SOGC, told the National Post.

Dr. Lalonde said the only ethical consideration is to ensure that an abortion is “what the woman wants”. “We have to be fair to give women a choice,” he said.

The National Post says that SOGC’s recommendation, to be released in the society's journal on February 1, is that pregnant women under 40 “be given” non-invasive screening and amniocentesis if their risk for Down's syndrome appears high. Pregnant women over the age of 40 should “automatically be given amniocentesis” the Post reports.

On January 2, ACOG’s media release said women should automatically “be offered” the option of “less invasive” screening, such as genetic counseling and ultrasounds, as well as the more dangerous amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to detect any possible “chromosome abnormality or…inherited condition”.

Canada’s pro-life leaders expressed outrage at the eugenic implications of the recommendations.

Jim Hughes, National President of CLC responded to SOGC saying, “More than 3 million babies have already been killed by abortion. Sex-selection is quickly becoming an option and a threat to the unborn, and now the medical profession, that is supposed to save lives, is proposing to terminate lives based on its medical version of acceptability.”

Joseph Boyle, a professor teaching Christian bioethics at the University of Toronto told the National Post that though having more information is itself a good thing, the ethics depends upon what is done with it.

“Other than having an abortion if the child is discovered to have Down's,” he said, “what good is that information going to be?”

ACOG says the goal is to “offer procedures with “high detection rates and low false positive rates” and admits that the invasive amniocentesis and CVS procedures can result in what they call “pregnancy loss.”

Dr. James Goldberg, a former chairman of ACOG’s committee on genetics, told the New York Times that the recommendation to offer younger women the invasive procedures was worth the risk of miscarriage.

He said that for most couples, “losing a normal pregnancy secondary to the procedure is not as problematic as the birth of a Down syndrome child, so they’re willing to take that risk.”

The ACOG guidelines were published in the January edition of journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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