Should I have any screening or diagnostic tests for Down''s?

Down''s is the commonest chromosomal syndrome and the whole issue of screening for it is very controversial. Firstly, there is little point in having screening or diagnosis for Down''s or other chromosomal conditions unless you have carefully thought through what you would do if the result were positive (ie the baby had the condition). For Down''s, there is a wide divergence of opinion. Some parents want only a completely ''normal'' child and would opt for termination of pregnancy (which can be carried out at this number of weeks). Others are equally adamant that they would want to bring up a Down?s baby, and accept the considerable extra work and effort that would be required for this. There are problems other than mental handicap, for example a higher risk of leukaemias in infancy and frequently Down''s occurs in conjunction abnormalities such as heart defects. This may be very serious, if not lethal to the newborn baby and will require major surgery to correct. It is important to make any decision about the future of your pregnancy with all these factors taken into account. Other chromosomal conditions such as Edward''s and Patau''s syndrome carry an extremely poor prognosis and mercifully are very rare.
How likely is it that my baby will have Down''s syndrome?

The risk of having a baby with Down''s syndrome is related to your age, although parents of any age can have a Down''s child. It is not related to how many children you have had, whether you have a new partner, or to drugs that you might have taken at or around the time of conception.

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