Our primary objective was to estimate, by one year and five year intervals, maternal age specific risk rates for Down syndrome among whites and among other races from two different populations, metropolitan Atlanta and south west Ohio, using live birth and prenatally diagnosed cases ascertained during 1970-1989. The five year estimates were also calculated separately for each of the five four year periods during these 20 years. Additionally, we compared two different methods of estimating these risk rates by using a third population of whites, and compared two different statistical methods of smoothing the risk rates. The results indicate good agreement between the metropolitan Atlanta and south west Ohio estimates within races, but show a statistically significant difference between the two race categories. Because 86% of live births in the "other races" category in the combined population are to blacks, these data may be seen as the first estimates of maternal age specific risk rates for Down syndrome among blacks calculated by one year intervals. We found excellent agreement in the risk rate estimates among the five four year time periods, between the estimates obtained by using the two different methods of estimation, and between the estimates obtained using the two different methods of statistical smoothing. Our estimated risk rates for white women in their 20s strongly reinforce those from previous studies currently being used for genetic counselling purposes. While we did find somewhat higher rates for women under 20, and increasingly higher rates for those over 30 years of age, these differences are not substantial. Thus, this study in general supports the risk rates estimated from data collected mostly during the 1960s and 1970s.
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