Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Analyses of two data sets are presented, one based on nationwide hospital discharges for the USA for 1970–1971, the other for Upstate New York vital record data for 1976–1981. Summary relative risks of a Down syndrome livebirth were calculated within the three maternal age categories below 20, 20–29, and 30 years and above for those with a history of one spontaneous abortion and for those with a history of two or more, compared to those with no reported previous abortions. There was significant heterogeneity by age and reproductive history in the relative risk of an affected child. In general the trends revealed that the younger the mother and the more the number of abortions, the higher the relative risk of a Down syndrome livebirth compared to the rates for women of the same age for those with no previous abortions. Extrapolation from average maternal age specific rates on Down syndrome imply a rate per 1000 livebirths somewhere in the range of 1.1 to 11.4 for women under 20 years with a history of one spontaneous abortion, of 5.2 to 13.4 for women under 20 years with a history of two or more spontaneous abortions, and of 1.0 to 2.4 for women 20 to 29 years with a history of two or more spontaneous abortions. (Average “background” livebirth rates in women under 30 years are, in contrast, in the range of about 0.5 to 1.0 per 1000 and for the average woman aged 35 years, at which prenatal diagnosis is usually felt to be indicated, 2.7 per 1000.) For those in the other categories these data did not reveal clinically significant effects upon average maternal age specific rates. It is emphasized that because of limitations in the data it is not possible to refine these risks by adjusting for karyotype, the age at which the abortions occurred, or other biologic and social factors associated with embryonic and fetal death. The implications of the analyses here for genetic counseling should be regarded as preliminary and tentative.
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