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NHS figures on Down’s-related terminations are “wholly inaccurate”

Posted Nov 10 2009 10:02pm

The Daily Mail reports that the official number of terminations resulting from an ante-natal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome according to NHS statistics is roughly half the true number.

Professor Joan Morris of the National Down’s Syndrome Cytogenetic Register said: ‘The Department of Health’s figures on Down’s terminations are wholly inaccurate”, noting that over the last four years fewer than half of abortions of babies with Down’s syndrome were recorded properly.

“Between 2004 and 2008, a total of 4,777 abortions were carried out on foetuses with the disability, with 1,032 terminated last year, it said.

In contrast, Department of Health figures show that between 2004 and 2008, a total of 2,168 Down’s abortions were recorded, 436 of them last year.”

The NDSCR’s figures are accurate since it is notified of every diagnosis of Down’s syndrome. In comparison, the NHS’s figures only relate to abortion forms. The issues is significant since, as I noted earlier this year, the NDSCR’s funding is due to expire in March next year.

As Professor Morris explains:

“Our register is important because it gives a clear picture of what is happening in terms of the trends for Down’s, and ensures that proper health care provision can be made for the babies born. When we close there will be no way of getting accurate data, as you cannot rely on Government statistics”.

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