Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Down's syndrome: Your stories

The number of Down's syndrome pregnancies has risen by more than 70% over the last 20 years, University of London researchers say. The sharp rise reflects the growing number of older women becoming pregnant, when there is a higher risk.

Here one BBC News website reader shares her painful experience of why she decided to terminate her pregnancy.

KAREN, INVERCLYDE

I was one of those who chose to terminate when I found I was carrying a baby with Down's syndrome. Your article assumes it is a straightforward decision to terminate on diagnosis. It's not, it is the most heart wrenching, agonising and distressing decision I will ever make in my life.

I already had two children but when I remarried my husband and I decided we would like a child together. I became pregnant and was offered a test early on. We had already decided that we didn't want to continue if the tests were positive. I didn't think it would happen to me; there was no family history to suggest it might.

When we finally got the results I was taken in to a cupboard - it really was a cupboard - and told that my baby had Down's syndrome.

It was a huge shock and we were totally unprepared

It was a huge shock and we were totally unprepared. We had discussed what we would do before but that was just theoretical. Now I had a photo of the scan and this was not a group of cells but a living baby.

As I was now almost 13 weeks the doctors told me I needed to decide the next day. I was not pressured by them but had to make a decision very quickly.

We didn't have any information on the condition of the baby or how severely affected it might be or what kind of quality of life it would have. I didn't want to go through with a birth where the baby might have so many complications it could not survive.

We were faced with such a huge unknown. We didn't want to put the baby through lots of pain. We also thought it would be unfair on the rest of the family. It was an exceptionally hard decision to make and I have never got over it.

I felt that I had murdered my baby

I felt that I had murdered my baby and for a long time in my own head I thought of myself as a murderer. I have developed coping strategies but it is not something I will ever be able to leave behind me.

I didn't tell many people. My husband and immediate family have been incredibly supportive. I had sleepless nights for a good couple of years and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The most shocking thing was how badly it was handled. There was no guidance at the hospital, no-one had been trained to counsel you in these situations. There wasn't even much explanation about the procedure. After the operation I came round in the labour ward to hear all the other babies crying.

My concern is that hospitals just are not set up to deal with this

Yet when I look at the figures released today clearly lots of women go through this. My concern is that hospitals just are not set up to deal with this. Luckily I got in contact with the charity Antenatal Results and Choices, ARC. They support people whichever decision they make and were a great help.

Having a child late may be a lifestyle choice as indeed it was for me, but it is not a life choice I would make again if I could go back in time.




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