Blog Post

Study: Life with Down Syndrome Happier Than We Think

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist

At a time where pre-natal testing is eliminating more than 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, a new study from Children's Hospital in Boston finds that an overwhelming percentage of families say their lives are better because of the presence of a child with Down syndrome.

MSNBC is reporting that researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston surveyed more than 3,000 Down syndrome patients and family members and found that 79 percent reported a very positive outlook on their life with Down. Ninety-seven percent of siblings ages 12 and older expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome.

A third study evaluated adults with Down syndrome and found that 99 percent reported feeling happy with their lives. Another 97 percent said they liked who they were and 96 percent liked the way they looked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome in the United States every year. The chromosomal disorder causes a range of intellectual impairments and other problems such as heart and stomach defects, a weak immune system, poor hearing and a shorter lifespan.  Some people with Down are high functioning and can live a fairly normal life while others are severely disabled and unable to communicate.

Dr. Brian Skotko, a clinical fellow in genetics at the hospital and lead author in the study, says he's hoping the research, which was published this month in the American Journal of Medical Genetics will serve to better inform both the parents and clinicians who are providing prenatal care for a Down Syndrome child.

“So many American women who are pregnant are getting prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, and then they ask all those pertinent, relevant questions: What does this mean for my family? What does this diagnosis mean for my marriage? What impact will it have on my other sons and daughters?” says Skotko, whose 31 year-old sister with Down was the inspiration behind his research.

“Now, we have heard from 3,150 family members around the country on what this is like. This information will be very helpful as women make many personal and profound decisions about their pregnancies.”

Unfortunately, this is not what is happening in the U.S. where pressure to abort babies with Down has led to the wholesale slaughter of these children in the womb.

"In a totally backwards world, parents are told that they are selfish and evil if they DO NOT kill their special needs child," writes Rebecca Taylor, clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, for  "And with a new, early, non-invasive genetic test on the horizon, the pressure on parents to 'get rid of' their Down Syndrome child will only increase."

Taylor says that instead of urging mothers to kill their children, doctors should give them the scientific facts and tell them: “There will be challenges but your child is nearly guaranteed to be a happy adult!”

Unfortunately, "the culture of death distorts the truth by suggesting that parents are doing the right thing by killing their Down Syndrome child," she says. "The culture of death says, 'Better dead than have Downs.'  But 99 percent of adults with Down Syndrome report they are happy with their lives."

She adds: "I doubt you would find anything close to that percentage in the 'healthy' adult population.  And yet it is these very happy adults that are being targeted for destruction in the womb."

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