The introduction of a controversial new prenatal screening technique has led to a dramatic drop in the number of babies born with Down’s syndrome.
Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) was introduced in some NHS hospitals in England to more accurately test unborn babies for certain conditions. It has been claimed to detect Down’s syndrome with around 99 per cent accuracy.
The number of babies born with the condition fell by 30 per cent in hospitals where NIPT is being used, and The Sunday Times reported that more women who have the test go on to have abortions.
The Government had originally planned to introduce NIPT nationally around autumn 2018, but this was postponed and no new start date has been confirmed.
Campaign group Don’t Screen Us Out pointed out that the Government has previously admitted that “no assessment was made of the impact that the roll-out of will have on the lives of people with Down’s syndrome”.
Lynn Murray, a spokeswoman for the campaign said: “As a mother of a 19-year-old daughter who has Down’s syndrome, I see every day the unique value she brings to our family and the positive impact she has on others around her.
“The figures released today show that the fears of the Down’s syndrome community that rolling out these tests would lead to a large drop in the number of babies with Down’s syndrome were not unfounded.”
She continued: “We are calling on the Government to halt preparations to further roll-out the tests on the NHS immediately and to undertake an urgent inquiry into the impact that these tests are having on birth numbers of babies with Down’s syndrome.
“It is totally unethical and discriminatory for the Government to go any further with the roll-out of the tests given that data from NHS hospitals shows that these tests are leading to the reduction in the numbers of people from a specific community.”