The number of children born with Down’s syndrome in the UK has halved since the introduction of controversial tests for the condition, a recent study has shown.
Since non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) was made available in the UK in 2012, Down’s syndrome births have fallen by 54 per cent.
NIPT is a type of blood test claimed to be 99 per cent accurate in diagnosing the condition. But critics have repeatedly argued that it would inevitably lead to many more abortions, and fear Down’s children could be eradicated altogether.
The report, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, is based on Europe-wide statistics from registries and databases between 2011 and 2015.
Figures showed that in Southern Europe, Down’s syndrome births fell by 71 per cent due to abortion. In Northern Europe, the number of births fell by 51 per cent, and by 38 per cent in Eastern Europe.
Dr Brian Skotko, the senior author of the study, said the findings would aid “deep discussions” on how countries implement NIPT and the “impact on the country’s Down’s syndrome population”.
The study comes as more sensitive tests are becoming available, with the condition being detected from as early as the ninth week compared to the current 11 to 14 week range.
Actress Sally Phillips, who actively opposes NIPT, said the new tests will increase the abortion rate of children with Down’s syndrome still further.
In Great Britain, around 92 per cent of those diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb are aborted.