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Radio Shows | A New Downs Syndrome Diagnostic | mp3wmawav

As more women have children later in life, we'll see more babies born with Downs syndrome.

It's something women may have thought about lately watching vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin with her baby who has the disability. She was 44 when she gave birth.

By then, a woman's risk for having a baby with downs syndrome skyrockets. When you're twenty the risk is one in two thousand but at 49 the risk jumps to one in ten.

But statistics show 80 percent of Downs babies are born to women under 35. Despite how common Down's syndrome is, the prenatal diagnostic tests are not very accurate and they're risky and expensive.

There are two types: One screens for the risk of your baby having Down's Syndrome. The other actually tells you if the baby has it.

The most commonly used screening test is "The Triple Screen" which evaluates the mother's blood. Ultrasounds are also used to look for physical characteristics of Down's syndrome.

The more accurate diagnostic tests are amniocentesis, chorionic villus Sampling or CVS and percutaneous umbilical blood sampling or PUBS.

The problem is they can all result in a one percent chance of miscarriage which is substantial.

Luckily two new tests are under development. They're not only much safer, they're accurate and cheaper. A simple drop of Mom's blood is used to examine the small amount of fetal DNA present.

Both tests look at chromosome 21 because a baby with Downs has an extra copy. The tests measure the amount of chromosome 21 from each parent. If it's not equal then Downs is indicated.

The new tests will let expecting moms know their baby is healthy or allow them to better prepare for what's ahead.

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For more information…

A pediatrician and father of a Down's Syndrome child has a very nice web site with extensive articles on a broad array of topics related to Down's Syndrome including prenatal diagnosis here. He includes extensive links to information that may be useful to other parents of Down's children.

For information about the new tests for Down's Syndrome that are in development go here with additional information from the New York Times here and here.

The National Down Syndrome Society is dedicated to efforts for the benefit of people with Down syndrome and their families through national leadership in education, research and advocacy. Their website provides extensive information about this genetic disorder and resources for families with Down's Syndrome members.
For more information…

KidsHealth provides doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence. This site was created by The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, and provides families with accurate, up-to-date, and jargon-free health information including information about Down's Syndrome.
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