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Prenatal screening for autism a step closer
New research may enable autism screening
Prenatal screening for autism moved a step closer to being made possible after scientists discovered ways of potentially identifying the condition in unborn babies.
New research, released today, has found thathighlevels oftestosteronein the amniotic fluid of pregnant women was linked toautistic traitsin their children.
These findings mean that soon-to-be parents would be able test to see if their unborn baby has autism, which would then allow them to take thecontroversialdecision toterminatethe pregnancy.
There are now calls for a national ethical debate on the issue with parents of autistic childrenstrongly opposedto prenatal screening, fearing that it would lead to greater discrimination and less support for them.
The disorder is also famously linked togeniuses, particularly those who demonstrate an extraordinary grasp of maths and music.
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the team at Cambridge University’s autism research centre, told the Guardian, ‘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’s syndrome and that is legal and parents exercise their right to choose termination, but autism is often linked with talent.
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