In 2016, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported that 33% fewer babies are born with Down Syndrome (DS) every year in the United States. The main reason for this syndrome is pregnancy terminations. A similar study was done in Europe, and it was found that the growth of prenatal screening has decreased by 54%. Researchers also found that people with DS were being counted inconsistently or at times not at all on the country to country basis. This would create a problem for policymakers and advocacy organizations when they need to estimate the number of resources and support services required for people suffering from DS.
To solve this problem, a study was done on people suffering from DS. Moreover, the research also established a baseline of DS birth rates and pregnancy termination rates. Such a review would be quite beneficial for the development of the Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPS) Market. It comes ahead of a new non-invasive prenatal screening test that can determine the likelihood of chromosomal conditions within a fetus in the early gestation period. After this test, the expecting couple can opt for definitive genetic testing. NIPS is expected to further reduce DS within newborn babies. However, it was introduced in the US in 2011 but wasn’t widely covered in Europe’s National Health Care Systems till now.
The team invested three years in collecting data from several databases and registries present all over Europe and estimated the number of babies born with DS. Moreover, they also calculated the number of DS in the overall population. Statistical modeling was applied to create estimates in countries where gaps were found in the data. The researchers have tried to provide stats that could be as accurate as possible.
The study concluded that there was a wide variation in DS rates in different parts of European regions. From 2011 to 2015, Southern Europe had the highest reduction rate due to pregnancy terminations, i.e., 71%. Northern Europe and Easter Europe had a 51% and 38% reduction rate. Although, it was found that there was no consistent rate, and the differences ranged from no reduction in percentage at all to 83% in countries where abortion laws are stringent such as Spain.
This study may construct the way for governments to work together with DS Organizations to form best practices that could be taken up to implement NIPS and provide support to couples that receive a prenatal DS diagnosis. Also, the researchers are planning to do a similar modeling study in New Zealand and Australia. They will continue to work for enabling governments with DS data as NIPS becomes more widely available.
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