Healthcare: On the Agenda - Down's syndrome births on the rise

- In a nutshell

More Down's syndrome babies are being born now than before prenatal screening was introduced 20 years ago, figures show. After screening was introduced the number of babies born with the condition in the UK fell from 717 to 594 at the start of this decade. Since 2000, the birth rate has increased to 749 in 2006.

- Why is this happening?

The Down's Syndrome Association surveyed 1,000 parents to find out why they continued a pregnancy despite a positive test result. A fifth said they had known somebody with Down's, a third cited religious or anti-abortion beliefs and 30 per cent felt life had improved for people with Down's. Almost one in five did not believe the test results.

- Are there any other reasons?

The risk of the condition increases with the mother's age, and more women have been delaying starting a family.

- Media coverage

The story has been picked up by the BBC Health website, and most of the national newspapers.

- Who is behind the PR?

The PR has been handled by the Down's Syndrome Association's in-house PR and campaigns officer John Smithies. Alongside the results, he aimed to promote a documentary on BBC Radio 4 this Monday, produced in collaboration with the association. The drive is the start of a campaign to increase the amount of information about the condition given to parents.

750 UK babies with Down's syndrome are born each year

60,000 people are living with Down's syndrome in the UK.

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