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The latest Down’s syndrome statistics from England and Wales

Posted Jun 12 2009 6:43pm

I just noticed that the UK’s National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register has published its latest annual report sometime in the last two months.

I haven’t seen any reporting of the latest statistics in the mainstream press – quite possibly because they contradict the false accounts of earlier statistics that were widely reported late last year.

The Register has changed to financial years for its reporting (presumably the UK government’s financial year, ending March 31) which makes direct comparison with the figures used in those reports impossible, however these are the preliminary stats from the current report (PDF):

  • In 2007/8 there were 1,843 diagnoses of Down’s syndrome In England and Wales, of which 60% were prenatally diagnosed.
  • In 2007/8 there were an estimated 743 Down’s syndrome live births, a live birth rate of 1.2 per 1000.
  • Between 1989/90 and 2007/08 there has been a 72% increase in the number of diagnoses of Down’s syndrome in England and Wales from 1,075 to 1,843.
  • The number of live birth has fluctuated over the years but overall has decreased by 1%, from 752 to 743.


Morris JK, The National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register 2007/8 Annual Report. Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Queen Mary University of London 2009.

Since the register started collecting data on 1st January 1989 the annual number of Down syndrome diagnoses has increased steadily, firstly due to the considerable increases in maternal age, the major known risk factor of the condition, and secondly due to the increase in the numbers of DS pregnancies diagnosed prenatally, many of whom were non-viable and would have miscarried and therefore remained undiagnosed in the absence of prenatal screening.

The report also indicates that as screening has become more widespread the percentage of prenatally diagnosed cases that result in termination has been on average 91.4%, with a low of 88.4% (1990/91) and high of 93.2% (1989/90 and 1993/94).

The latest also notes that “The register is funded by the National Fetal Anomaly Screening Programme until March 2009. The Department of Health is then funding the NDSCR for only 1 year until March 2010.” It’s not clear what will happen to it after that.

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