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New Test May Eliminate Downs Syndrome Disorder

NY Post

A new, simple way to detect Down syndrome in a fetus means the condition will be virtually extinct—but not without a great deal of controversy, experts say.

Last month, San Diego-based Sequenom released a test that allows doctors to screen for the most prevalent type of Down syndrome with only a blood test from the mother. The screening is available in 20 cities and is expected to hit New York soon. Two other companies have plans to release similar tests next year.

“What you end up having is a world without people with Down syndrome,” says Paul Root Wolpe, director of the center for ethics at Emory University. “And the question becomes is that a good thing or bad thing?”

Because the current methods of screening for Down syndrome, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, carry a risk of inducing miscarriage, only about 2% of pregnant women in the nation undergo the screening, says Dr. Brian Skotko, of the Down syndrome program at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The safer prenatal screenings will likely mean more women will be tested, and the number of women carrying babies with Down syndrome who terminate their pregnancies could increase, if not skyrocket. Today, 92% of mothers who get a definitive diagnosis of Down choose to abort, surveys show.

“It’s a real conundrum,” Wolpe says. “Human beings have always tried to fight and cure disease, and this tool, projecting it forward 50 years when it’s powerful enough, will make a difference in eliminating those diseases in the world. It’s a tough call.

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  • 2. my sister is Down syndrom wrote:

    noo! Donwsyndrom people bring joy to this world! they are so pure and so sincere! I cant bare the thought of people aborting their ;downssyndrom chilren!

  • 4. Ok? wrote:

    Down syndrome babies are meant to come into this world for a reason. Choosing to abort based on a test that may show down syndrome should not interfere with raising a child-down syndrome or not!
    How sad is that we try playing G-d!

  • 5. Milhouse wrote:

    Chas vesholom! How could you even publish such an article here?

    If we could eliminate the disorder, of course it would be a good thing. A person is clearly better off healthy than sick! We eliminated smallpox, we almost eliminated measles until the anti-vaccination nuts brought it back, and we would definitely eliminate this illness if we could do it. It’s bizarre and anti-Torah to suggest that people should deliberately be kept sick in order to give other people the chance to do chesed, let alone to serve some weird egalitarian ideology.

    But as the article says, no test could possibly eliminate the disease. Instead what may happen is that the test will lead to the wholesale mass murder of babies, rachmono litzlan. Already 92% of mothers who know their babies have this disorder choose to have them killed; if more mothers knew about their babies’ condition more babies would be killed. And *that’s* the problem: not the elimination of the disorder, but the elimination of the bearers! It’s like portraying the Holocaust as an attempted cure for Tay-Sachs syndrome. If we could eliminate Tay-Sachs we would have no hesitation in doing so; but wiping out the carriers is not the same thing at all!

  • 6. Thinkster wrote:

    Need more info.
    At what week gestation can the test be done? How effective it the test? How many false positives are there (where the test says you have it but you don’t)? Are there any false negatives (where the test says you don’t have it but you do)?

    Not so simple.

  • 8. ugenics wrote:

    Hey great idea, and if we really practice eugenics we get rid of all the Jews, gays,mental ilness and a whole myriad of sicknesse. If we really wanna be creative we could call ourselves the Nazi party and what we are doing the Holocaust.

  • 9. Whats the matter with you? wrote:

    Your title is completely misleading. This test will not eliminate Down Syndrome it will only identify the condition and allow for the parents to do an abortion r”l. So to the editor I ask – what is the poiny of posting this article??!!! Your readers would not consider such an option. Please remove this article or at least change the misleading title. Thanks

  • 10. to #3 and #5 wrote:

    to #3 and #5 very easy to for you to say, but is your child down symdrome??? having a sibling that is, isnt like you yourself have been given this hardship, so please do not put this test down! it would be an incredible thing!!!!!!!do you even know the stress it puts on the parents and innocent siblings?

  • 11. This is just wrong wrote:

    Its one thing that this article was written and published in the first place, but what is particularly disturbing is that you chose to publish it. It completely boggles the mind and is beyond me why this is deserving of being posted here. As they say “ you can be open minded – just dont let your brains fall out”
    Dont be like the mewspaper that publishes “all the news that fits”

  • 12. Come on step forward wrote:

    Great teriffic all you do gooders out there that want Donwsyndrom babies to be born come forward and adopt them and with “RARE” exception let them live the sad life they will face.

    Take them home and explain why people will always stare and why they will never have any chance of a normal productive life.

    And if you can’t afford the thousands of dollars of extra care that is needed don’t worry we can always increase Medicare to pay for them.

    Any one remember the thalidamide babies? Would it have been a shanda to abort them before they were born with their one arm and no legs?

  • 13. mom wrote:

    I live in Australia. My youngest is 19 years old knh.
    Maybe we are more advanced than in the USA, but when I had my routine blood work done at 16 week gestation, my doctor told me that everything was fine b’h, there were no neural tube defects, and Down Syndrome was not indicated.
    Nothing invasive, just the regular blood test that all pregnant women have.
    In my previous pregnacy, the test was also done.
    The first six just told me that neural tube defects were not detected.My oldest is 33 knh.
    So….. if a blood test does detect Downs Sydrome,what does a woman do?
    The only way to eliminate Downs syndrome in the community is to terminate the pregnancy. Is this what we want?

  • 14. HASHEM runs the world wrote:

    I never Comment on these sites but I can’t bring myself to ignore this…
    PLEASE remove this article immediately!!!!!
    It is misleading insensitive and does NOT belong on a frum website…

  • 15. Think wrote:

    Milhouse, firstly, Down Syndrome is a genetic disease not an infectious disease like smallpox or measles so it cannot be vaccinated against.
    Secondly you talk of the Holocaust and Tay Sachs is ridiculous. Is not the Dor Yeshorim testing in order to eliminate Tay Sachs? Also a child with Down Syndrome has the syndrome they are not bearers.
    This diagnostic test will be given only after screening tests have come back positive. The same way one has a right to refuse CVS and amniocentesis one can pass on this test too. It gives an option to mothers who are worried about the risk of miscarriage from an invasive test to get a diagnosis about their child.

  • 16. To #10 wrote:

    Separate from the abortion issue, almost all of us Ashkenazim wholeheartedly embrace a kind of eugenics when it comes to Tay-Sachs (and the handful of other things that organizations like Dor Yesharim test for). Are not those babies too “destined” to be born? Are we not also “playing god” when we specifically deny children to be born of certain parents?

    I understand that this case is incomparably entangled with pregnancy termination, so there are additional layers of complexity. But it’s important to understand where the crux of any debate or halachic inquiry on this issue lies, and not to go too far down the rabbit hole of emotional rabble-rousing.

  • 17. :) wrote:

    These text are not 100% accurate!!! A family member of mine took this test and was told she was going to give birth to a down syndrome child. So for her whole pregnancy she was worried sick knowing she would have to deal with the hardships of having a child with special needs. But guess what, her child was born bh healthy and not down syndrome like the doctor predicted!!!!
    I wouldn’t take the test to begin with, but to do something so extreme as an abortion the doctors would have to guarantee 100% that they are right!!!

  • 18. No rachmunis? wrote:

    Only an anti-abortionist frum Jew would inflict the misery and heart breaking life a Down Syndrome baby brings to a family. Have you no rachmunis on the baby and the family that must live with this for a lifetime?

  • 19. OMG! SHOCKED!!! APPALLED!!! wrote:

    I am appalled that you have the nerve to post such an article. Children who are born with Down Syndrome are probably better people than those who wrote this silly article which makes absolutely no sense. Hashem wants these children in this world and if this is the nisoyon Hashem is giving a family, so let it be. You would you rather have a child born with Down syndrome rather than a child born R”L with some disease. Children with Downs are charming, cheerful, joyous, delightful etc. I can go on and on about their wonderful characteristics. If you are looking to help Hashem decide what to eliminate from this world, Down syndrome should be at the bottom of the list.

  • 21. FURIOUS wrote:

    I know it’s not easy with a Downs Syndrome child, but I don’t know what it’s truly like because I don’t personally know anyone with Downs Syndrome. I vaguely remember a few at the school I went to years ago.
    But I must say, that just as I accept and love my children for everything about them, it would be the same for my special child, if I had one. I would never, ever consider an abortion. NEVER. They are wonderful people and we can learn from them.
    If your child was born with Downs Syndrome, would you kill him/her? CHAS VSHALOM! So what’s the difference? NOTHING.

  • 22. Milhouse wrote:

    There’s nothing wrong with eugenics; that’s what shidduchim are about! We look for good genes in a spouse, so our children will have the best chance they can. If Down’s Syndrome were a hereditary disease that could be tested for in the parents then that would be great. Or if we could cure it in the child (either before or after birth) that would also be wonderful. But we’re talking here not about preventing such babies from being conceived, or about curing them, but about detecting and killing them before they have a chance to be an inconvenience to us! That’s the Nazis’ version of “eugenics”, and it’s evil.

    #14, Yes, I know exactly what Down’s Syndrome is, thank you very much, and how it differs both from measles and from Tay-Sachs Disease. How is that relevant? All three should be eliminated if such a thing is possible; but not by killing those who have it.


    This is awful- I am so shocked at this horrible article. Yes, of course we daven for good health for our children but this is so misleading, just encouraging people to have abortions if the child might be DS?
    Wow. I. Cannot. Believe. This. At. All.

  • 24. Think wrote:

    Milhouse, let me introduce you to familial Down Syndrome a hereditary disorder due to a Robertsonian translocation of chromosome 21.
    Also, let’s not confuse eugenics, on a population level, with assortative matine on an individual level.
    How do you propose to ‘eliminate’ a genetic disorder without allowing that particular genome to come into existence?
    Once again, there are screening tests and diagnostic tests. The screening tests can only tell of increased risk. It’s not that they are inaccurate but that luckily the individual avoided that risk.

  • 25. to #9 wrote:

    How low cn a Jw fall? Your thoughts disgust me. I remember from my pregnanies – the rebbe was against ulrasounds – wha will be if th es shows a problem? Aborion is ASSUR unless the mother’s life is in danger.
    Having a down syndrom baby is not life threathening. It would b ourigh MURDER!
    I remember the thalidamide babies, Would you rather be DEAD han missing a limb? Oh sorry – you ARE missing a limb and 2 organs. Your head, brain and heart! STOP KILLING JEWISH BABIES!

  • 26. to #14 wrote:

    Dor Yeshorim testing is done BEFORE a couple beomes engaged. It is one thing to decide not to marry someone when there is a 1 in 4 chance that every child you have will R”L die before age 5, and killing a baby that was already conceived! In Russia the communist starved to death all down syndrom and oher handicapped babies. They didn’t give the parens he option to take them home! Now you want to kill Jewish babies too?

  • 27. BROCHA wrote:


  • 29. Milhouse wrote:

    #27 you sound like those who insist deafness is not a disorder, and should not be cured, and that those who seek to cure it are committing “genocide” against “deaf culture”. Yes, there really are such people, and they’re meshuga. It’s all very well to accept what Hashem gives us be’ahava if we can’t change it, but let’s not get lost in our own pretense. These children are not “special”; they are defective, baalei mum, just like deaf people or blind people or any other people whom Hashem has chosen to give a handicap in life. For that matter, poverty is also a defect, which we pray Hashem not to afflict us with; poor people cannot have the same quality of life as most people can, and if possible we should try not to be poor. As with all defects, if we can’t do anything about it then we have to accept it as Hashem’s will, but if we can fix it we should. But NOT by killing the sufferer! Imagine if someone proposed ending poverty by gassing all the poor people, chas vesholom! That would work, but what kind of monster would do such a thing?

  • 30. to #29 wrote:

    Hashem Yishmor! I don’t know were you are from and who educated you, but you sure are waaay more ‘defective'(as you say it) that any blind,deaf or SPECIAL needs (yes they are special need , while u are a SPECIAL case one like i’ve never seen before) person I have ever seen!!! May G-od bless you, for you realy need a refua !

  • 31. to # 27 wrote:

    you game me hope that some people still have a heart and a clue of whats the real meaning of life !! thanks for writing so beautifully !!!

  • 32. meh wrote:

    yay, because of science we can now marry our cousins, or even siblings. We’re just like the royals.


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