January 6, 2006
Down Syndrome is a birth defect caused by a genetic mutation, and according to a new government report, it's showing up across the country more frequently.
"From my standpoint it reinforces to us that everybody has a risk and that we need to think about that in every patient," said Dr. Devereux Saller Jr., Director of UVA Hospital's Maternal-Fetal Medicine Department.
A new study suggest Down Syndrome is more common than previously thought.
Some experts, Dr. Saller included, believe it's partly the result of a new social trend.
"As women are delaying childbearing and having children later in life after they've established careers, often we're finding more and more women who are having children at a point where their at higher risk."
The risk of Down Syndrome increases with a mother's age.
For example, a 40-year-old woman would be 13 times more likely to have a child with a chromosomal birth defect than a 15- to 24-year-old.
That's why doctors are recommending woman over 30 should learn about the complications involved with high risk pregnancies before they decide to have a child.
"I think a study like this helps patients to understand that they do have certain risks that maybe previous generations of patients weren't aware of," said Dr. Saller. "The risks were there; the patients just weren't aware of them."
That Study was released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.