A follow up study of a cohort of 280 Down's syndrome (DS) fetuses was initiated in order to estimate the percentage of terminations of pregnancy, the prevalence at birth, the survival of DS children, the attitude of the parents at birth, and the medical and surgical care provided. The present study is a preliminary analysis of the data collected up to the age of 1 year. It shows that 43% of the 280 DS fetuses had died by the end of the first year of life, owing to termination of pregnancy (27%), late spontaneous abortion or stillbirth (4%), or death during the first year of life (12%). Among the 33 children who died, 12 had a common atrioventricular canal, six had another major malformation, three died from infection, one from respiratory distress, two were cot deaths, and one was an infanticide, but eight deaths were unexplained, occurring in children with no known malformation or disease. Among the 185 children still alive after 2 days, 23 (12%) were available for adoption, their mothers having elected to remain anonymous. These results show that in some instances parents or professionals feel justified on one hand in not providing DS children with the necessary care and on the other hand to transfer their responsibilities to the public health system. The influence of prenatal diagnosis of chromosome disorders as a determining factor of the social acceptance of DS is still questionable.
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