A Down Syndrome Cure?

This is the CitizenLink Report. If you find our insights helpful, would you
support our video efforts? Your gift of $25 or more goes a long ways:
Covers the crew, lights, cameras – all that. Just click on Donate. Thanks from all of us. People around the world are talking about
a possible cure for Downs Syndrome. They’re also discussing the value of a human life.
This is the CitizenLink Report. Hi, I’m Stuart Shepard along with Carrie Gordon Earll who
follows the life issue for Focus on The Family. Hi, Carrie. Hi Stuart, There’s some research out that suggests we
may be close to possibly therapies, or treatments, or perhaps even a cure for Downs Syndrome.
And that takes us right to the life issue. You know it really does because Downs Syndrome
is a perfect example of we all being made in the image of God. We’re all created in
His image and we are human beings, we’re not human doings. And our value as humans is not
based on how productive we are, how good looking we are, what kind of car we drive — any of
the types of measures that the world tends to put upon us. So when we talk about Downs
Syndrome it’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about God’s design for humanity in a
fallen world isn’t perfect, but every life from fertilization to natural death is sacred. Let’s join in the discussion that people are
having all over. First, what is Downs Syndrome when you get right down to the science of it? Well I think probably everyone has interacted with or has known someone with Downs Syndrome and generally people are born with two sets of 23 chromosomes
for a total of 46. In essence with Downs Syndrome people are both with three sets of one chromosomes
and that’s usually chromosome 21 — so they have an extra chromosome for a total of 47. There
are quite a few people that are born with this condition and about 250,000 in the US.
About 7,000 babies each year are born with Downs Syndrome and the severity of the condition
can vary from having cognitive delays and heart defects and a shortened life span for
some and others will live a long life and will be mainstream, so
there’s quite a variety there. Now the headlines suggest we may be close
to a cure. Is that a stretch? It’s a bit of a stretch but there is some
good news and that is that the University of Massachusetts Medical School has released
a study where they have found a way to insert a gene into that extra chromosome in essence
silencing it. So it’s a really interesting approach here and it could lead to treatments.
It’s unlikely it is going to lead to a cure because it would have to affect conception
in that way and they aren’t saying that’s possible but they’re very excited. This is
a significant discovery for them because it helps them better understand how that extra chromosome operates. And with that there is the potential for treatments and therapies
that had not even been imagined before for Downs Syndrome. Now for years now we’ve been in an era where
when someone’s pregnant there’s a test that’s taken and the Doctor can say your child has
Downs Syndrome — your preborn baby has this condition. How do you think this will impact
decisions that are made based on that news? Well a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome, which is different than screening, if you’re diagnosed, the baby with Downs Syndrome, that’s a life
changing word to those parents. And it can be very frightening because it’s the fear
of the unknown. And there are some women that forgo prenatal screening and testing because
for them abortion is just not an issue. Unfortunately most of the diagnoses of Downs Syndrome end
up being a death sentence for that pre-born baby because more than 80% of women, according
to studies, abort when they find out they have been diagnosed with a Downs Syndrome
pregnancy. So in that case the ability to diagnose leads to the death of an innocent.
But that’s where were optimistic about this research because this is the type of information
that I think can be very helpful and hopeful to parents that have received that kind of
diagnosis. They need to have good information. And you know the Doctor that does the diagnostic
test might not have the latest and most accurate information about these types of studies so
we encourage parents to get as much information as they can. Also talk to families that are
raising Downs Syndrome children because they’ll be able to help you walk through some of those
fears and really have good information so you can make a life affirming decision. Now there’s a story out of Virginia that illustrates
in real life how many families are ready to open their arms to a child with Downs Syndrome. This was a fascinating post on many of our
Facebooks in the last couple of weeks and this was a church in Virginia that posted
a story. They had received a call from an adoption agency trying to help a couple. A
married couple had been diagnosed — their baby with Downs Syndrome and they did not
want to parent the baby. And so the word went out to this adoption agency well unless we
find a home we are going to abort this pregnancy. Well this Virginia church posted that on their
Facebook. Within a very short amount of time they had more than 900 contacts of people
with the message yes, I will take that baby. Including mothers who were already parenting
Downs Syndrome children who were willing to adopt. Plus they wanted to talk to the birth
family and say let me tell ya’, what a blessing this child is to us and everyone else so that
was a happy ending to that story. They were able to find an adoptive family and as far
as we know that baby is being born into that home. Alright. Carrie, thank you for your insights
and for keeping track of all this. Thanks, Stuart. And thank you for watching. We always appreciate
hearing from you. Let us know what you think. You can send us your questions, your comments,
your criticisms. We’re open to all of that. You may write us at [email protected] dot com.
And pray for families around the world as they have these conversations about the value
of a human life and particularly what to do that in the event that during a pregnancy
there’s a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome. Pray for those families as they make those decisions
and pray they make a life affirming choice. And remember, Stand Tall and Be Heard!


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