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New prenatal screening test: false progress, true decline

Published on 03/18/2010 in Bioethical

9HG793MTA new prenatal screening test diagnosis for Down Syndrome has made its entry into Europe and has been planned to arrive in France soon. Presented as being progress, it actually entails severe human and ethic consequences.

As any mother now knows*, prenatal screening tests for Down Syndrome rests on several successive tests: it starts with a blood test and an ultrasound scan eventually followed by a third test: chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. These invasive techniques, practiced between the 10th and the 16th week of pregnancy can, amongst other things, provoke miscarriages in 1 to 2% of cases.

Recently, a new technique has been developed which needs a simple blood test. It rests on a foetal DNA test, present in maternal plasma, and can be practised at a very early stage of pregnancy.

Marketed in Europe by the German company LifeCodexx, this new test is accessible since last August in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Marketing applications are going to be handed in soon in the other European Countries. However, contrary to what the promotional campaign says, this new test poses serious problems:

This false marketing presents it as medical progress. In reality, it is technical progress but a medical decline. Indeed, it won’t help treating babies, it will only help to get more babies with Down Syndrome killed.

The purpose of putting it on the market is to avoid healthy children being aborted due to one of these invasive tests. But this reasoning is like admitting there is a huge dramatic difference between healthy kids and unhealthy ones.

Its 100% reliability average pleases its promoters. However, 96% of babies’ diagnosed with Down Syndrome in utero are already being aborted. What it is that is so importance to us? A total eradication of this part of the population?

This new test enables to get the results of the diagnosis even before the legal delay for having an abortion is over. This will only lead to more abortions carried out for medical reasons, which will not be differentiated from any others. The consequence being that eugenics in regards to children with Down Syndrome will no longer be noticeable… one might as well says, will no longer exist : these kids will just be banished from our very memories !

States devote derisory means to therapeutic research in favour of Down Syndrome. Helas, though research is progressing rapidly, the considerable amounts of money spent on the new test can only delay research progress. And everyone knows that everything that has been done over the years against children with Down Syndrome has, bit by bit, acclimated society to eugenics. Thus, promoters shamelessly admit this new test will soon enable to diagnose many diseases and, also, predispositions to diseases.

*Since the new law on bioethics was voted, in July 2011, healthcare professionals are in the obligation of informing all future mothers, whatever they age or health, about the possibilities of having prenatal screening for Down Syndrome.

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