16 Dec 2015

Fetal Medicine for Down Syndrome

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 10:16 am

Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is perhaps best known for its role in delayed intellectual development and obvious physical characteristics. Possible errors in over 200 proteins encoded for by the DNA can wreak health havoc. Medical researchers are beginning to focus on ways to fix the biochemistry, giving hope that early detection will result in actual treatment options beyond today’s stark choices of whether or not to abort the fetus and subsequent special education and medical support once the child is born.

Regarding intellectual development, most new neurons in the brain are created before birth. Thus, treatment for Down syndrome would best be started in the womb.

MIT Technology Review just posted an excellent article on this topic today, “A Change of Mind,” subtitled, “Diana Bianchi championed tests that find Down syndrome early in pregnancy. Now can she find a way to treat it?” I recommend it. (You may need to register at their site to read the article, but registration is free.)

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