A national screening programme for Down’s syndrome halved the number of babies born with the condition, according to an evaluation study.
Findings were based on a prenatal screening programme in Denmark using a combined test of maternal age, nuchal translucency scan and biochemistry, or a combination of the three.
Researchers assessed effectiveness of the screening programme introduced in 2005 measured the number of fetuses born with Down’s syndrome when a first trimester screening test had been done in 2005 or 2006.
The number of newborn infants with Down’s syndrome in the 19 departments of gynaecology involved in the study decreased from 55-65 per year in 2000-4 to 31 in 2005 and 32 in 2006.
The proportion of cases diagnosed prenatally increased from 53-61% during 2000-4 to 81% in 2005 and 79% in 2006.
However, authors warned: ‘Currently women choose to have a screening test; 0.4 women per 1000 in 2005 and 0.1 per 1000 in 2006 subsequently delivered a child with Down’s syndrome, despite having a risk assessment below the 1:300 cut off.
‘These few women may feel more resentment towards the system that failed them than those women who chose not to have an invasive diagnostic test because of advanced maternal age. This emphasises the importance of informing all women about the limitations of screening.’