Statement from Down Syndrome Australia, 5 October 2016
Down Syndrome Australia welcomes the current discussion in the media about pre-natal testing, prompted by the release of a BBC2 UK documentary involving British actress Sally Phillips who is the mother of a child with Down syndrome, exploring issues around pre-natal testing for Down syndrome.
Over the last few years the capacity to test for genetic conditions such as Down syndrome before birth has increased. It is now possible to detect various chromosomal conditions pre- natally through a blood test also known as a non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT).
It is the view of Down Syndrome Australia that this advance in medical technology must be accompanied by appropriate information to support families in making informed decisions about testing and how to respond to the results. Feedback from the Down syndrome community suggests that in most cases the information provided to families is out-dated or focused on a very negative portrayal of what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome.
“It is critical that decision-making following a diagnosis of Down syndrome is informed by accurate and relevant information and made freely after active consideration of one’s own values and beliefs” stated Angus Graham, Chairman, Down Syndrome Australia.
Down Syndrome Australia is a non-profit organisation whose primary aim is to represent and progress the needs, interests and aspirations of people with Down syndrome and those who support them throughout Australia.
Since its establishment, Down Syndrome Australia has worked closely with its member organisations, the eight State and Territory Down Syndrome associations in Australia, on issues related to pre-natal testing including by developing a national resource available on its website, to ensure that expectant parents in Australia are provided with contemporary, balanced and up-to-date information about Down syndrome and prenatal testing.
Down syndrome Australia will continue to advocate for better pre-natal information and support as part of its commitment to improving the lives of people with Down syndrome throughout Australia.