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U.S. Records Increase in Kids With Down Syndrome
Date:11/30/2009

Expert attributes rise to more women having babies later in life,,,,

MONDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- A growing number of children in the United States are being born with Down syndrome, federal researchers say.

The overriding reason, experts add, is that more older women are having babies.

Data from 10 regional registries of birth defects show that the incidence of Down syndrome among U.S. children increased by 31 percent between 1979 and 2003, from 9.0 to 11.8 per 100,000 live births.

The survey of U.S. children with Down syndrome provides a benchmark for determining whether adequate health services for them are being provided, the researchers say.

"In the past we have focused on the prevalence at birth," said Dr. Adolfo Correa, a supervisory medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of the report, published online Nov. 30 in Pediatrics. "The survival of children with Down syndrome has improved over the years, so we were interested in knowing the prevalence among children."

The growing incidence, however, could paint a false picture, said Dr. Siobhan Dolan, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women's health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and a consultant to the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.

The increase simply reflects the fact that more American women are having babies later in life, and "there is a strong epidemiological association between Down syndrome and maternal age," Dolan said.

Down syndrome occurs when a child has an extra chromosome, number 21 of the 23 that determine genetic characteristics. Though most people think of the syndrome as a cause of mental retardation, some children with Down do not need special schools, Dolan said. But the extra chromosome is associated with a number of major physical problems, including li
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