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Would You Support Prenatal Autism Screening?


Earlier this week, researchers at Cambridge University published results of an eight-year study linking high rates of testosterone in the womb (specifically amniotic fluid) with autism traits in children. The researchers performed amniocentesis on 235 pregnant women. The results have some people advocating for prenatal autism screening, similar to those for Down's syndrome, to help parents better prepare for the birth of a special needs child. Parents of autistic children are speaking out against the test, fearing it will lead to less support for children with their condition.

The lead researcher for the study, Simon Baron-Cohen (Sacha Baron-Cohen's first cousin) said:

"If there was a prenatal test for autism, would this be desirable? What would we lose if children with autistic spectrum disorder were eliminated from the population? We should start debating this. There is a test for Down Syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism is often linked with talent. It is a different kind of condition."

Would you want to know if your child had a greater chance of being on the autism spectrum before he was born?

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