Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are Kids with Down Syndrome on the Road to Extinction?

We've just finished hearing about human genetic disorders. For most of these there is actually minimal treatment options and only support groups for parents. Here's an interesting article on one of the most common genetic disorders - Are Kids With Down Syndrome on the Road to Extinction?
What are your thoughts?

15 comments:

escoble said...

I was really interested by the issue raised of how advances in technology created ethical dilemmas. In regards to this specific test, it makes perfect sense that expectant mothers would want to know whether or not their child will be born with downs syndrome so that they can prepare or terminate the pregnancy. The opinions of parents with children who have downs syndrome bothered me a lot.
I understand that it would be an extremely difficult choice to end a pregnancy of a developing child with down syndrome, but I think that for a parent of a child with down syndrome to claim that it was the best thing that ever happened to them is dishonest. Of course they love their child, but I do not think that they should underplay the difficulties involved for themselves, their families, and the child. The parents of down syndrome in this article express worry that if this test is widespread, then there will be fewer children born with down syndrome. One of the reasons they state that they find this worrisome is that if more mothers are aware of their expectant child’s condition and are therefore able to terminate, then there will be fewer resources for their own children with down syndrome. I found this extremely selfish of them. I understand the concern that research on the condition will “taper off,” and I do think that children with down syndrome should benefit from scientific research and live the best lives possible. However, it almost felt like they want more children to be born with down syndrome for reasons such as, stated by a mother, “Having [the baby] really challenged me to rethink what it means to be a whole and full human being.” This just seemed so selfish to me because when choosing whether or not to have a baby with downs syndrome, it’s not all about the parents choosing to accept or reject a flawed child. I think the most important factor would be considering the social and health difficulties the child would have, not to mention the life expectancy is much shorter than a normal child. Anyway, this was an interesting article, and I like the point raised in the last line that, this is only the first of many tests. It seemed to foreshadow more ethical dilemmas to come.
-Emma Scoble, 5th Period Bio with Ms.Doering

Unknown said...

This is a very interesting article! I think that it is interesting to bring up the point that children with Down syndrome might become "extinct", but after reading the article and what it had to say about families with children with Down syndrome, I feel like many mothers would want to keep their child even after finding out about the genetic disorder. It would have been interesting to include statistics about mothers who found out their child had Down syndrome and chose to abort the child, and whether or not they regretted it. Also, even if in the future people decided to abort all children with Down syndrome, would it be appropriate to label a genetic disease as "extinct" even if the mutations were still occurring?
- Sissy, Doering period 5

Unknown said...

I find this article very intriguing as it brings up an ethical dilemma. whether or not to end a pregnancy if the child has down syndrome. is a fetus with down syndrome as much as a human as one without down syndrome. I would say now that i would not want a child with down syndrome but that is right now if there was a actual life what is would actually do is... well i don't know what i would do. looking at the statistics was interesting and i liked the statistic "A third study analyzed responses from 284 people with Down syndrome: 99% said they were happy with their lives; 4% expressed sadness." 99%+4%= 103%
i also find the mixed reactions to
Down syndrome children interesting.
Adrian C.
6th period Doering

Karina El Baze said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this new test... On one hand, I definitely understand why a mother would want to have a prenatal diagnosis of their baby, but on the other, I believe it gives too much say to the mother and not enough to the child. I found it incredibly selfish that the mothers were describing having a child with Downs as a very rewarding experience, as if the child is a charity project and his/her flaws serve as character building for the parents. What about the child? The mothers are too busy worrying about their marriages and the emotional impact on the other siblings to take a moment and consider the actual happiness of the child with Downs. I am not trying to underplay the mental distraught for the mother spurred by the child's condition, but I do believe that the article objectified the child in a very twisted way.

Karina El Baze said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this new test... On one hand, I definitely understand why a mother would want to have a prenatal diagnosis of their baby, but on the other, I believe it gives too much say to the mother and not enough to the child. I found it incredibly selfish that the mothers were describing having a child with Downs as a very rewarding experience, as if the child is a charity project and his/her flaws serve as character building for the parents. What about the child? The mothers are too busy worrying about their marriages and the emotional impact on the other siblings to take a moment and consider the actual happiness of the child with Downs. I am not trying to underplay the mental distraught for the mother spurred by the child's condition, but I do believe that the article objectified the child in a very twisted way.

Emma Kemble said...

While I think in many ways the possibility of eradicating a genetic disorder is exciting and hopeful, this article portrays this new test as an opportunity for mothers to terminate a child that would be, in their minds, embarrassing and stupid. No one wants to be faced with the choice of ending a pregnancy, but faced with this horrible decision I don't think mothers should be thinking about how sad it would be that their child can't read Dostoevsky but rather, knowing that your child might be completely disabled and unhappy, can bringing them into the world be justified. However, this question brings up yet another ethical dilemma because no one can really claim the authority to determine whether a life should be brought onto this earth or not, regardless of possible limitations.To me, this article or perhaps the parents discussed, ignore both the innovate implications of this new test and the reality of living with down syndrome.

Gabe Binder said...

While I found this article interesting, the statistics that accompanied it seemed out of place. What does it mean that 99% of people with down syndrome say that they are happy? What a odd, unspecific piece of information. Also odd was that many parents seemed to advocate for having a child with down syndrome as a sort of moral enrichment for themselves and their other children- that these siblings and parents can become better people by learning to love a child with down syndrome. Although these parents may have been over-emphasizing this aspect because they have already had a child with down syndrome, it came off as strange. Shouldn't the primary concern be how the child's quality of life could be changed? The article would have been much better if it had discussed the effects of down syndrome in detail. Finally, it is hard to say for certain what I would do in this kind of situation. The emotional and moral implications of 'choosing' in this situation are immense. But for the purposes of argument, given this new technology, I would choose to have a 'normal' child. -Gabe Binder, 3rd Period Campodonico

DFletch said...

This article is very intriguing in how it portrays the affect of advancing medical technology on the social level. You can connect to a lot of the problematic issues that we have such as euthanasia and of course, abortion, as this is addressing very indirectly. But what is bothersome is that most of these people have chosen that they want a baby and it is obvious that the baby would not be perfect. I definitely think that people should be happy with the children they have and not take out the opportunity to have such a child. Maybe eventually people could be on their way to developing a treatment and people who decide not to go on with having their Downs syndrome positive child are only hurting these studies. I think that if someone is ready to raise a child, they should be happy with the child that comes from them.

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting about all the new information about tests that the mothers can take to find out if their child has down-syndrome or not. I do not know what i would do if I found out my future child had down-syndrome or not. For one reason because I do not have to a choice to abort the child because i am a male. I would talk to the mother of the child and talk to her about what to do. I would try to persuade her to not abort the child because that is a future child that I had a part in creating. I do not know how I would live with myself if I knew I killed a human.

Per1Carlos said...

It was very interesting about all the new information about tests that the mothers can take to find out if their child has down-syndrome or not. I do not know what i would do if I found out my future child had down-syndrome or not. For one reason because I do not have to a choice to abort the child because i am a male. I would talk to the mother of the child and talk to her about what to do. I would try to persuade her to not abort the child because that is a future child that I had a part in creating. I do not know how I would live with myself if I knew I killed a human.

Malek3 said...

This article was really interesting because it is a revolution in the scientific world. The ability to diagnose a child with a disease before he/she is born is a major step in science. If it happened to me, I would do what the woman did, I would see whether or not having a child with down syndrome really affects ones life or not. Also, I believe that the title is a bit misleading. By saying that Down Syndrome will become extinct, one assumes that it can no longer occur in people. What the article is trying to say is that you can limit the amount of children with down syndrome but since it is a genetic mutation you can completely eradicate the disease. It would have been cool to have a statistic specifically examining the number of parents who choose to abort versus those who don't. This is a very interesting article and hopefully science can lead to more diseases like this one being discovered early.

Anonymous said...

I honestly can't fathom abortion in any context, and that's not out of a "pro-life" mindset or anything of the sort. It's just a decision that I personally could never make. A parent should love their child not in spite of how they are born but because of how they are born. The article sort of implies that abortion is beneficial to the child as it will be spared a life of medical and mental problems, but if the child is aborted it loses its right to life entirely... The article also mentions that some people regret birthing a child with down syndrome, or are even embarrassed... but wouldn't someone regret NOT birthing their child so much more? That isn't something you just delete and forget about.
-Kenya G. 7th

Per7Becca said...

I thought this article was interesting because before reading it, I didn't know there were tests to find out if your baby had any genetic disorders. I feel that if you are opposed to abortion however, you shouldn't take this test because you wouldn't change anything anyways (after finding out the results). But, for people who are really concerned about this potential, but unlikely disorder, this is a great technological advancement for them to use. Clearly though, only women with money lying around would have access to this test, since it is not cheap (about $1000). This then could raise other problems. I also found the fact that the number of children with down syndrome is actually decreasing to be interesting. I'm still not sure why this is (is it just because of these new tests or what?). Overall, an informative article about advancements regarding down syndrome that I was not aware of until now.

per7Max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
per7Max said...

This is an interesting article that addresses scientific advances as well as the practical implications of having a child with Down Syndrome. The main scientific advancement detailed in the article is that of more advanced, non-invasive detection technologies. With more and more mothers knowing whether or not their unborn child has Down Syndrome, the issue of the morality of abortion is called into question. Despite the (dubious) statistics indicating the 99% “happiness-rate” of the families of children with Down Syndrome, it is my personal opinion that one should terminate the pregnancy of a fetus prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome. If life does not begin at birth, then this debate becomes a variant of the sorites paradox (I would advise looking it up because I probably can’t do it justice). But if life begins before birth, one is confronted with the issue of defining when that moment is. Is it moral to abort a child one day but not the next? (Again, I would advise looking up the Sorites Paradox). Perhaps this is a youthfully indolent perspective, but I personally would terminate a pregnancy if I knew the child had Down Syndrome, regardless of stage. It is a difficult and nuanced issue that the scientific advancements seem to exacerbate.