Did you know beforehand?

I’ve been asked that question frequently. It seems to be the first thing that occurs to a lot of people.

We had no idea that Jacob would arrive with Down Syndrome. Quite a few people in the hospital were surprised. You could argue that it should have been spotted, but Jacob didn’t make it easy for the medics. His heart showed no irregularity, which would normally be one of the first things to be picked up by the scanners. Nor was the slight bulging at the nape of his neck very prominent, another thing that would have indicated in utero that something was different.

There is a test that can be taken from about four months into pregnancy called an amniocentesis test. Dee didn’t take it, although she would have been 37 when Jacob was conceived, and the stats show that the chances of having a baby with Downs increase with age.

I’m not sure what we would have done with the knowledge anyway. Probably fretted a hell of a lot and tried to prepare for the unknown. Kind of impossible really, and I personally am glad that I didn’t know. In my eyes Jacob has never ceased to be what he first and foremost is right now: a baby. Knowing about the DS might have had an unhappy effect on that simple little fact.

On the issue of statistics, I turned up these on the UK’s NHS website.

Aged 20 years, a mother has a one in 1500 risk of conceiving a baby with Downs; aged 30 it’s one in 800; aged 40, that risk jumps to one in 100. If you are at the older end of this spectrum and thinking about conception, it’s certainly a factor.