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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444

Monday, 8 December 2008

Does Australia need a national prenatal screening policy for Down syndrome?

The Fairfax press picked up reports about the Danish research referred to in this post, and asked Australian (professional) experts if a national prenatal screening strategy for Down syndrome should be implemented in Australia. Disparities in the availablility of screening between metropolitan and rural communities, and between public and private patients were highlighted.

Down Syndrome NSW provided input, but not much of our contribution was used, particularly not our emphasis on the need for prospective parents to have access to adequate accurate and current information upon which to base an informed choice.

Similar articles were published by both the Sun-Herald in Sydney and The Age in Melbourne.

The Australian articles have prompted quite a bit of comment (and some re-reporting) on the Internet, including this response from a British blogger, "The Great Unasked Question in Down Syndrome Screening".

A debate about implementation of screening strategies might well be overtaken by the clinical release of non-invasive diagnostic prenatal tests using maternal blood samples in the first trimester. The development of tests using DNA sequencing technology to detect fetal DNA fragments from maternal blood are claimed by researchers to be well advanced. An apparently polite dispute over patents between two groups in the US was reported in the science press last week.

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