Today there are still many misconceptions about prenatal genetic screening (also called Non-invasive or dna-screening) and the effect on people with Down syndrome.
This list dispels some of the common myths about Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT).
MYTH: Screening prevents suffering because Down syndrome is a serious life-limiting condition.
TRUTH: While in the sixties Down syndrome could still be viewed as seriously life limiting and, to some, offer justification to provide prenatal screening and selection for Down syndrome, today’s reality of life with Down syndrome would justify phasing out existing prenatal programs: people with Down syndrome on average, live long, healthy and full-filling lives. Their families report an above average appreciation for life.
MYTH: Prenatal selection is rare for Down syndrome.
TRUTH: In Europe 92 of every 100 pregnancies are terminated when Down syndrome is diagnosed. In the United States this number is around 67.
MYTH: Denmark reports Down syndrome is headed for extinction, which means the dying out of a species because of environmental forces.
TRUTH: As soon as Denmark stops the deliberate intervention aimed at eliminating a group, Down syndrome will once again occur in approximately 1 in 550 live births. This means that Down syndrome naturally occurs and people with Down syndrome are a part of our human species.
MYTH: NIPT will not lead to more women taking up screening.
TRUTH: Countries already experience a 30% increase in the uptake of screening. Experts predict a higher uptake once NIPT is well accepted.
MYTH: Non-invasive prenatal testing will reduce the total number of miscarriages as a result of invasive tests.
TRUTH: A more widespread use of NIPT would lead to a significant increase of false-positives, requiring confirmation. Hence the following paradox: the number of invasive diagnostics would rise because of the use of the NIPT that should precisely be diminishing the use of invasive diagnostics.
MYTH: Discrimination before birth by offering and promoting prenatal selection does not lead to discrimination after birth.
TRUTH: Selecting people with Down syndrome by routinely preventing their births sends a clear message that people with Down syndrome are valued less in society. The only way to stop discrimination on the bases of Down syndrome, is to stop discrimination on the bases of Down syndrome.