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October 20, 2000

Family Planning

Question from the UK:

My sister is 34 years old and has had type�1 diabetes for nine years. She is pregnant with her second child (the first child does not have diabetes and is seven years old). She has just had her blood test results back and they say she has a 1:106 chance of having a Downs Syndrome baby. Are diabetics prone to having Downs babies (there is no history of Downs Syndrome in our family or her husbands family)? Could there be a chance with her diabetes that this may change the statistics on the blood test?

Answer:

Diabetes does not increase the risk of genetic abnormalities [such as Downs syndrome] and will not alter the analysis of risk by maternal blood testing. Diabetes is taken into account when screening for neural tube defects which is done with the same blood test.

OWJ