A new prenatal blood test may, in the near future, be used to determine if an unborn baby has Down’s syndrome without the risk to the unborn child posed by invasive testing methods such as amniocentesis. But, my fear is that this test will actually cause the death of many unborn children.
Reuters is reporting that researchers, led by Stephen Quake of Stanford University in California, believe they have created a way to look for the extra chromosomes that cause Down’s and similar birth detects in the tiny amounts of fetal DNA that circulate in the mother’s blood.
The test, which requires a small blood sample from the mother, is safer for the mother than amniocentesis, in which a needle is stuck into the uterus. Also, this blood test can be done earlier in a pregnancy than amniocentesis.
Quake’s team demonstrated the accuracy of the new genetic test in a small study involving 18 women.
It accurately identified the nine women with a Down’s syndrome pregnancy and three others with unborn children with different chromosomal disorders, the researchers wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It’s the first universal, noninvasive test for Down syndrome. So this should be the first step in putting an end to invasive testing procedures like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling,” Quake said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
Blood tests for pregnant and prenatal ultrasounds can find potential signs of a chromosomal disorder such as Down’s, but cannot diagnose it with 100% certainty.
Nevertheless, a recent report from Spain horrified many when it revealed that abortion is being used for eugenic purposes to eliminate the “unfit,” specifically children with Down’s syndrome.
In fact, as I discussed in a recent blog, recent statistics show that almost 95% of Spanish babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.
Since many believe that these statistics are likely similar here in America, the truth is that this “simpler” test may, in fact, lead to the deaths of many unborn children via abortion.
But, there are even more ominious possibilities that this test will bring us – for the test can also give the gender of an unborn child as early as seven weeks gestation – five weeks earlier than current tests.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to predict that some parents will use this test as a way of selecting the sex of their child, simply aborting an unborn child that they find “unsuitable.”
In addition, I’m also concerned that if this test is given to all pregnant women, as it likely will be, that many moms will simply not be prepared for results that show the presence of serious diseases, which could put them under pressure to have an abortion they almost certainly will regret – an abortion that not only kills the unborn child, but is likely to lead to mental health problems for the unsuspecting mother.
Down’s syndrome, which causes mental retardation and other problems, is caused when a child has three copies instead of the normal two of chromosome 21 – and has been powerfully brought to the national spotlight with the beautiful infant son of Governor Sarah and Todd Palin.
My experience, having cared for many families with a child with Down’s Syndrome and without exception these children have been an amazing blessing for their families. Furthermore, I find most of these children have a spiritual sensitivity and a special relationship with God.
Yet, the current testing for Down’s, for a definitive determination, require that women must have an invasive diagnostic procedure such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. This is done typically after the 15th week of pregnancy. And, these procedures carry a small risk – roughly 1 percent – of causing a miscarriage or birth defects.
Because of that, their routine use has been mostly by women age 35 and older at higher risk for having Down’s syndrome babies. Scientists have been working for years to devise safer, noninvasive tests suitable for any pregnant woman.
Quake said the new test also could be administered much earlier in a pregnancy than amniocentesis or CVS – potentially as early as five weeks after conception. And the results are back within a couple of days, instead of two to three weeks.
Quake said the new test could be widely available in two or three years, and could become a routine prenatal test of a baby’s health. Quake said the next step is a larger study involving hundreds of women.
Stanford University has filed a patent on the test and two companies are negotiating for the licensing rights, Quake said. He said he is has been hired as a consultant for both companies, which he declined to identify.
This whole prospect chills me – as I believe it’s going to lead to the unwarranted murder of many of these wonderful children – uncounted legions of precious children, like Trig Palin, who will never have the chance to be held or hugged by their moms and dads – but who will, I believe, be nestled in the arms of their Creator.