700 born with Down syndrome in 10 years in Norway
The number of live-born children with Down syndrome in Norway increases. It has done so ever since 1977. In the last 10 years, 700 children have been born with the chromosome defect. The syndrome is also (formerly) known under the acronym Mongoloidism, due to the ”Asiatic” eye fold associated with it.
While 9 out of 10,000 live-born children were born with Down syndrome in 1970 in Norway, the ratio increased to 12 out of 10,000 in 2017. In total, 70 live-born children with Down syndrome were born into this world in Norway, according to figures from the Medical Birth Register, writes the newspaper group Dagsavisen.
– The number of live-born children with Down syndrome has increased by 30 per cent from 1970 until last year, says Chief Physician at the Women’s Clinic at Stavanger University Hospital (SUS), Tilde Broch Østborg.
At the same time, the number of abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome has also increased. Last year, this number was 59. In the peak year of 2012, 69 such abortions were registered in Norway.
Østborg says that the reason for the birth rates increases is complex, but that it is likely linked to that more women giving birth later in life. An additional factor is that fetuses with Down, with no other detectable deviations, will not be discovered through the ultrasound screening in week 18 of pregnancy.
– We must keep in mind that Down syndrome is a relatively rare condition. It is only one out of six pregnancies that are interrupted on the basis of Section 2c of the Abortion Act which has this diagnosis. It often occurs in combination with other malformations or abnormalities. So the use of the phrase «Down paragraph» to describe section 2c, seems to me to be completely misleading, Østborg lectures.
– The remaining interruptions of pregnancies under this section apply to other severe chromosome failures, severe brain and central nervous system malformations, severe heart failure and so on.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservatives) opened earlier this autumn for changes to the Abortion Act in the coming Government negotiations with the Christian Democrats (KrF). VG wrote this weekend that the Conservatives (Høyre) have prepared concrete sketches for legislative amendments to meet The Christian Democrat’s wishes in this matter. One suggestion is to replace the phrasing of section 2c to read that the pregnancy can be aborted after week twelve «if the fetus is not viable».
– This proposal will make the life of women with fewer resources and weak economies more difficult. Those who are resourceful, have the opportunity to bypass the Biotechnology Act by having a private consultation, and thereby abort a pregnancy with serious deficiencies before week twelve, she says.
Østborg says that the practice of ultrasound in week 18 only, coupled with a compulsory committee treatment after week 12, forces women to justify themselves before a committee if serious discrepancies are undetected that far into a pregnancy.
If section 2c is removed, women must convince the board that they are entitled to an abortion due to their life situation, physical or mental health, Østborg points out.
– They must either expose their social or mental challenges – or at worst, invent one – if they do not believe themselves capable to complete a pregnancy, she concludes.
The right to life is one of the Christian Democrats’ cornerstone issues. There is, however, far from being a majority in the Norwegian Parliament in favour of changing the legislation, including in the current Government parties.
Read more about Down syndrome (Wikipedia).
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today