Almost 6,000 controversial tests for Down syndrome

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Almost 6,000 pregnant women use blood tests to detect trisomy 21 in their unborn child

Since the introduction of the controversial prenatal blood test to determine trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) in unborn children, according to the manufacturer LifeCodexx, almost 6,000 pregnant women have taken advantage of the possibility of such an examination. "The vast majority of women (around 98 percent) were able to take away the psychological stress of worry and uncertainty through an inconspicuous test result," reports LifeCodexx. However, the company did not provide any information on abortions after a positive test result.

According to the manufacturer, the advantages of the blood test are obvious. Trisomy 21 could be diagnosed without intervention in the womb, meanwhile trisomy 13 and 18 could also be detected with the test. Demand was relatively high in the first year after the test was launched, with LifeCodexx saying that "almost half of the blood tests performed were commissioned by German practices and clinics". Around a quarter of the blood samples came from Switzerland and another quarter from other European countries.

Criticism of the Down syndrome blood test
While the manufacturer understandably puts the advantages of its product in the foreground, Caritas Disabled Aid and other associations for the disabled are extremely critical of the blood test. In its "Bonn Declaration", Caritas Disabled Aid explicitly referred to the "social dangers" of the trisomy blood test. The “selection options” opened with the test would further increase the “pressure on mothers who are pregnant with a child with a disability.” This increases the likelihood that women will end their pregnancy if their unborn children are at risk of becoming disabled decide. Caritas Disabled Aid declines blood tests that lead to the prevention of life that does not meet self-imposed standards. Here, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the right to life of people with disabilities guaranteed under fundamental rights, must also be taken into account.

Politics and society are called upon "to stand up for a society of diversity that also welcomes children with genetically determined disabilities in its midst," said Caritas Disabled Aid. Here, parents-to-be of children with congenital disabilities need all the support they need to be able to choose the life of their disabled child and "every form of public social pressure on parents of disabled children must be countered", according to Caritas Disabled Aid. (fp)

Photo credit: Andrea Damm /

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