Children born to older parents are at greater risk for genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. No one knows what causes the chromosomal abnormality that results in Down syndrome, a condition according to the National Association for Down syndrome, affects one in 800 to 1,000 babies in the United States. Any woman regardless of her culture, race and socio-economic status can have a baby with Down syndrome. However, a mother’ age seems to be a unifying factor among children with Down syndrome. Older women have a greater chance of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome, and the risks increases with every passing year. The National Association for Down syndrome estimates the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome to be as follows:
Less than 1 in 1,000 for a woman below age 30
Approximately 1 in 400 for a 35-year-old woman
Approximately 1 in 105 for a 40-year-old woman
Approximately 1 in 20 for a 46-year-old woman
History of Down Syndrome
In 1886, physician John Langdon Down was the first scientist to identify Down syndrome. Down was the administrator of a mental institute for children in Surrey, England. From his observations and work at the institute, he was able to identify a set of children who exhibited characteristics such as short nose, broad flat face, short and broad hands, which are features commonly identified with Down syndrome. He later wrote an essay entitled “Observations of the Ethnic Classification of Idiots” in which he asserts the notion that it was possible to classify different types of health conditions through race. His essay included his now famous classification of what is today known as Down syndrome, which he categorized as the Mongol...
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16. American College of Medical Genetics Clinical Practice Committee. ACMG position statement on multiple marker screening in women 35 and older. American College of Medical Genetics College Newsletter, January 1994;2.
17. American College of Medical Genetics Clinical Practice Committee. Statement on multiple marker screening in pregnant women. American College of Medical Genetics College Newsletter, January 1996;6.
18. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Maternal serum screening. ACOG Educational Bulletin, 1996; no. 228.
19. Benn PA, Borgida A, Horne D, Briganti S, Collins R, Rodis J. Down syndrome and neural tube defect screening: the value of using gestational age by ultrasonography. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1997;176:1056–61.
20. Benacerraf BR. Ultrasound of fetal syndromes. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1998:328–38.
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