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Better knowledge of Down’s needed

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Nurses and midwives need to improve their knowledge of Down’s syndrome to help and support parents of babies with the condition, a UK study has shown.

University of Hertfordshire researchers interviewed 10 parents of babies who had Down’s syndrome.

The parents reported limited opportunities to talk about the needs of their newborns because healthcare staff appeared to be embarrassed or to lack knowledge about the condition.

Parents also felt that practical advice and emotional support was inadequate.

Lead author Roja Sooben, senior lecturer at the centre for research in primary and community care, said: ‘The lack of balanced information for parents raises a number
of implications for maternity care policy, practice and healthcare education.

‘The essence of the research findings points to an unequivocal message that the newborn with Down’s syndrome was not considered as having healthcare needs like any other baby.’

She added: ‘Their needs are invisible, and the focus is more on what the babies can’t do rather than what they can do.’

According to the Down’s Syndrome Association, around one in every 1,000 babies in the UK will have Down’s syndrome.

Carol Boys, the DSA’s chief executive, said: ‘Being told that your baby has Down’s syndrome can be difficult to come to terms with for many families.

‘It is vital that parents are treated with sensitivity and given accurate information both before and after the baby is born.

She added: ‘Better access to training and information for healthcare professionals is necessary.’

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