An expectant mother is always burdened with worries about the health and development of her little “bun in the oven”. The worries vary from wondering if the baby will have all of its limbs, fingers, and toes to wondering if the baby is developing on schedule. One major concern is if the baby will have a mental or physical disability such as Down Syndrome.
What many women don’t know is that in the United States alone, only about 5,000 babies per year are born with Down Syndrome. We’re talking about 5,000 out of nearly 4,000,000 babies born in the United States per year having this disability. So you should know that you have about 0.6 in a 1,000 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome.
Many mothers want to know every aspect of their baby before birth. They want to know of any defects, diseases, and disabilities the baby may be born with. Fortunately, with today’s modern medicine, many of the medical problems the baby will face can be detected before birth. Down Syndrome is one of them.
Each hospital has different policy on the screening of Down Syndrome. Some states require the hospitals test, while others give the mother the option to decline. When I had my son in Oregon state, I had an option. A friend of mine residing in California had no choice about the test.
The actual screening for Down Syndrome is done between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy through a process called amniocentesis. Using an ultrasound as a guide, the doctor inserts a long needle through the abdomen into the uterus and collects about an ounce of amniotic fluid. The fluid is examined and put through chromosomal tests. After about two weeks of testing, the mother knows whether or not she’ll have a baby with Down Syndrome. There are a few side effects to amniocentesis such as cramping, bleeding, and leaking of the amniotic fluid. Fortunately, the miscarriage rate is only about 3 to 4 percent.
Given the choice, I chose not to find out. I knew that if my baby was to be born with Down Syndrome, I’d dwell on that for weeks and weeks until it was born. My excitement would dwindle. I’d be afraid of being an unfit mother to a baby with a disability. I’d also be afraid of what my friends and family would suggest that I do about my “problem”, as some might call it.
In my opinion, every baby is born unique. To me, Down Syndrome would be just another trait such as eye color and skin tone. It wouldn’t change how much I loved my child or what a miracle I think he or she is. I’d never give it up for adoption or have an abortion based on Down Syndrome. Would you give up a child because he or she had brown hair?