Down Syndrome More Prevalent in U.S. Than Previously Thought
Down syndrome is more common in the U.S. than health officials previously thought, according to updated data on prevalence rates of 18 types of birth defects published on Thursday in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Down syndrome, which statistics show occurs in one in every 733 live births, was previously thought to occur in one in every 800 to 1,000 live births (Stobbe, AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/6).
According to the AP/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, "The reported incidence of Down syndrome would be higher if not for abortions among women who decide" to undergo the procedure after prenatal tests show a chromosomal disorder.
The report, for which data was gathered from 1999 to 2001, includes estimates for Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, as well as the metro Atlanta area in Georgia, the Central Valley in California and a group of counties in southern Alabama. (Stobbe, AP/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 1/5).
Recent trends that show increasing numbers of women having babies later in life might explain a higher prevalence of Down syndrome in recent years because the risk of the chromosomal abnormality increases with the age of the pregnant woman, the AP/Newsday reports (AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/5).
Suzanne Armstrong, spokesperson for the National Down Syndrome Society, said, "Until now, there's been a real dearth of good, reliable, national statistics on Down syndrome," adding that advocacy groups for the last decade have used less reliable estimates derived from reports from selected clinics and hospitals. However, she noted that because the new data was not collected in the same method as the old, it is unclear whether the prevalence of Down syndrome has actually increased (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1/6).