Debate over prenatal testing for Down syndrome continues

Brian Skotko, MD, MPP

Brian Skotko, MD, MPP, a clinical fellow in genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Down Syndrome Program, recently wrote a Thrive editorial about a soon-to-be available prenatal test for Down syndrome, which could safely and inexpensively detect whether or not a fetus has Down syndrome during the first trimester of a pregnancy. According to Skotko, once this test becomes widely available it will raise many ethical questions in regards to the already staggering pregnancy termination rates of fetuses with Down syndrome. (Current numbers show that about 90 percent of unborn children worldwide who test positive for Down syndrome are terminated.)

In less than a month’s time the post has been viewed over 8,500 times on Thrive alone, and has lead to debate on Down syndrome websites, Facebook, NPR and now television. Last night Dr. Skotko joined Dr. Lachlan Forrow, Director of Ethics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, on WGBH’s Greater Boston, to discuss prenatal testing and the effect it will have on both the Down syndrome community and the population at-large.