In the essay I posted yesterday, “Some Words About Down Syndrome,” I referred to the long-cited statistic that while older mothers have a higher chance of becoming pregnant with a baby with Down syndrome, most children with Down syndrome are born to younger mothers because the majority of babies are born to women in their 20s and 30s. While this was certainly true up until recently, the tide has changed. Since the 1970s, presumably as more women pursue advanced degrees and careers, so too have they postponed childbirth. Now, it seems, the numbers have tipped. Women having children over the age of 35 has skyrocketed, having tripled between the years 1975 to 2000, and this 35+ age group now has slightly more than 50% of the pregnancies of a child with Down syndrome. But, as has been brought up in previous essays, younger moms are slightly less likely to abort a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome than older moms. This fact leads me to suspect younger moms are still having more babies with Down syndrome that older chicas like me, but I do not have any statistics, one way or the other, on live births.
This interest fact was pointed out to me this morning by Mark Leach, whose blog, “Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing,” is one I regularly rely on for accurate statistics and information. The link provided here will take you to his article on the change in maternal statistics in the past 40 years. I highly recommend to anyone interested in issues related to Down syndrome and the ethical concerns surrounding prenatal testing to visit his blog.
This correction underscores the point of yesterday’s essay: There is always more to learn.