Down Syndrome and the Continuing Debate

Debate Continues around Down Syndrome and What to Do When It’s Detected Early in Pregnancy

In the last two weeks there has been plenty of discussion surrounding Down syndrome in early pregnancy. More specifically what is the best way to determine if a baby does have Down syndrome and what to do if they unborn baby does have it.

There are some writers who seem to think the simplest solution is to have an abortion if a fetus tests positive for Down syndrome. Others however, do not see it as so cut and dry. After all, no test for Down syndrome in early pregnancy can definitively tell you if the fetus does or does not have Down syndrome. In fact, most tests can only you tell you the risk of your unborn child having Down syndrome.

But To Be Blithe about Aborting a Baby Just Because It Has Down Syndrome Seems A Little Medieval

As medical science has progressed, it has found ways of helping people with Down syndrome. Which is important: they are people, not—as one writer put it—a tragedy.

Simply put, Down syndrome is a genetic condition where a person has an extra copy of chromosome 21. What this means is that the extra copy of chromosomes affects a number of physical and developmental characteristics as well as some level of intellectual disability. Also, there is not just one form of Down syndrome there is three:

  1. Trisomy 21
  2. Mosaic Down syndrome
  3. Traslocation Down syndrome

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care offers Down Syndrome Screening

With advances in medical science have come safe, accurate and non-invasive, non-surgical tests to determine the risk of your child having—or not having—Down syndrome. At our Sydney clinics we offer Down syndrome screening also known as the nuchal translucency scan. Using this scan, OMNI is able to determine the risk of your baby being born with Down syndrome.

The Nuchal Translucency scan is able to determine if your pregnancy has a low or high risk of Down syndrome. After this screen you and your partner can decide if you want a more invasive test. An invasive test such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or aminocentesis, however, do carry with them a small chance of miscarriage (0.5%-1.0%).

The Nuchal Translucency scan is usually performed between 11 and 13 weeks. It’s an ultrasound that is either done through the stomach or, depending on the position of the baby and your womb, a vaginal scan—the vaginal scan will give better views.

For More Comprehensive Results OMNI Combines the Nuchal Translucency Scan with a Biochemical Test

To increase the accuracy of the test, OMNI measures the level of two placental hormones in your blood. In order to calculate the risk of your baby having Down syndrome we combine the maternal age, thickness of the Nuchal Translucency measurement, the length of the baby and the levels of two placental hormones in your blood. Most women who undergo this combined test have a very low risk of Down syndrome—in fact the risk is less than 1 in 300.

If you chose to undergo the Down syndrome screening and then decide to proceed with a move invasive test, you don’t have to do so immediately.  This is a big decision to make and we do not want you to feel rushed.

This test can be performed up until you are fifteen weeks, after which you will need to undergo an invasive test to make sure whether your baby does or does not have Down syndrome.

Talk to your GP, Obstetrician or Specialist about visiting OMNI for a scan today.

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.