New Study Shows Rise In Birth Defect

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

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.

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