Iceland Prenatal Testing

Global Down Syndrome Foundation Responds To Shocking Report – Shares Translated Prenatal Testing Information With Iceland

DENVER  |  The Global Down Syndrome Foundation announced today that it has translated important prenatal testing information into Icelandic and provided the resource to the Icelandic Down Syndrome Association. The translation is a first step to support the association’s efforts in providing accurate information about Down syndrome to pregnant women and families in Iceland.

Global and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) offered to provide the translation of their recently published Prenatal Testing & Information About Down Syndrome following a CBS news report in August about the termination rates of Down syndrome pregnancies in Iceland.

According to the report, “Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.” In actuality, from 2007 to 2015, nearly 85% of pregnant women opted for Down syndrome screening and, of those who received an amniocentesis resulting in a positive test result for Down syndrome, 100% terminated.

The best available statistics in the U.S. are that an estimated 67 percent of women who receive an amniocentesis resulting in a positive test result for Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. But more than 95 percent of pregnant women don’t even elect to receive an amniocentesis.

“The high termination rates in Iceland are alarming,” said Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. “Every woman and every pregnancy is unique, but every woman should be given the facts including examples of how people with Down syndrome can and are contributing to society and reaching their potential. In the U.S. the situation is very different than Iceland – there is actually a population explosion of people with Down syndrome because of increased births and a more than doubling of the lifespan. Our problem is that funding for research and medical care has declined precipitously over the last two decades and we need to change that.”

“Global has been such a great partner to work with on our prenatal testing pamphlet and we are so pleased to offer it in Icelandic,” said David Tolleson, Executive Director of the NDSC. “The NDSC is offering scholarships to families from Iceland to attend our national convention in July of this year, and we believe it will serve as a great resource for people from Iceland to bring some best practices back to their country. We also look forward to learning from our colleagues in Iceland.”

“We appreciate Global and NDSC for extending support to the Down syndrome community in Iceland. Their generosity and moral support is very important for a small society as ours. And how wonderful to be part of this larger Down syndrome family, all sharing the same beliefs and hopes for people with Down syndrome,” said the Icelandic Down Syndrome Association President, Thordis Ingadóttir.

Watch C-Span cover the 5-minute testimony of Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Quincy Jones Award Advocate, Frank Stephens, about Iceland and the future of people with Down syndrome.

Below are several trends associated with Down syndrome based on data in the United States:

  • Population – ranges between 230,000-430,000
  • Live Births – have increased to 1 in 691 today from 1 in 1,000 in 2002
  • Lifespan –There have been great strides in medical care and lifespan has more than doubled to 60 years from 28 years in the 1980s
  • Low Government Funding – Despite being the leading cause of developmental delay in the U.S. and the world, Down syndrome is one of the least funded genetic conditions by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has been since 2001.
  • Education – By law, people with Down syndrome must be provided a free, appropriate education through their public school system.
  • Societal Trends – A small but growing number of people with Down syndrome are choosing to live independently, participate in post-secondary education or college programs, and get married.

For the most current, accurate information and resources associated with people with Down syndrome visit 


About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is at the forefront of research, medical care, education and advocacy dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. Supporting the research of hundreds of scientists around the world, and through our advocates, partners and affiliates including the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome, Global is making an impact on the lives of people with Down syndrome today, and remains focused on finding solutions tomorrow. We are committed to helping people with Down syndrome realize their fullest potential and to lead healthy and productive lives. To learn more, visit

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