Will Down Syndrome Blood Test Only Make Things Harder?

Julie Ryan Evans
21

pregnantA simple, new prenatal blood test for Down Syndrome is in the works and may be available to women within a year. Instead of using the traditional method of amniocentesis to test for the disorder, women would just give a little blood and know if their child will have it or not. While eliminating the risk that comes with amnios and other early tests and upping the accuracy of results is great, I have to wonder how it will change lives.

I think most women who are adamant they can't or won't raise a child with Down Syndrome are likely willing to take the risk of an amnio or CVS testing to determine if the baby they're carrying has it. For those in that camp, this is great news as it eliminates the risk, but I don't think it will change their family's destiny.

It's the rest of the women who are on the fence, who would like to know, but won't take the current risk,  about whom I wonder. For many of them the new test will be a great stress reliever -- one worry, one what-if checked off with a simple test. It's the women who wouldn't have otherwise chosen to test that find out their child DOES have Down Syndrome that this test could affect most. Will they choose to end pregnancies that they otherwise wouldn't have?

There will always be women who don't care and don't want to know -- they believe that any baby they give life to is the one they were suppose to get. I admire those women. Raising a special needs child isn't without heartache and hardship, but as some find, it's also filled with great beauty.

There's a blog I read -- Enjoying the Small Things -- in which a woman named Kelle Hampton writes about her daughter, Nella Cordelia, who has Down Syndrome. Her journey, from knowing the minute she laid eyes on her daughter that she had it (she didn't know before the birth), to daily life in dealing with her challenges is inspiring and incredible, and makes me think maybe sometimes people are better off not knowing.

In her amazing beautiful birth story (do yourself a favor and read, it's incredible), she writes:

Life moves on. And there have been lots of tears since. There will be. But, there is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky. I feel lucky. I feel privileged. I feel there is a story so beautiful in store...and we get to live it. Wow.

Not everyone can handle such a life with such grace, but while I mostly think this blood test is a great medical milestone, I can't help but feel a bit sad that it may take the opportunity from some to find out just how well and beautifully they can handle it.

Would you be more likely to screen for Down Syndrome if a simple blood test was available?


Image via karindalziel/Flickr

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