Guest / Limited Access /

"Should Down syndrome be cured?" read the title of a Motherlode (the parenting blog at The New York Times) post a few weeks ago. "Would you cure your kid's Down syndrome?" was Rod Dreher's version of the question. Both posts and the hundreds of comments they provoked originated with a study published in Science Translational Medicine last November. The study detailed research conducted on mice that had been genetically engineered to mimic Down syndrome. The researchers provided a drug to alter the brain chemistry of these mice, and the mice who received the drug demonstrated improved cognitive function. As Dr. Ahmad Salehi, the primary author of the study, explained, "If you intervene early enough, you will be able to help kids with Down syndrome to collect and modulate information. Theoretically, that could lead to an improvement in cognitive functions in these kids."

The study reports a theoretical possibility for improving cognition in individuals with Down syndrome. The same drug hasn't been tested on humans with Down syndrome, so we don't know whether these drugs would be effective or if they would have adverse side effects. Furthermore, the study's doctors suggest that the drugs would need to be administered early in the child's development. The individual with Down syndrome, in other words, would not be able to make his or her own decision regarding the treatment.

So the study itself raises ethical and philosophical questions, but even more problematic is the writers' suggestion that this treatment offers a way to "cure" Down syndrome. The language implies that Down syndrome is a disease, a sickness that is currently incurable. But Down syndrome is the presence, from conception, of an extra 21st chromosome in every ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueIncredible Indian Christianity: A Special Report on the World’s Most Vibrant Christward Movement
Subscriber Access Only Incredible Indian Christianity: A Special Report on the World’s Most Vibrant Christward Movement
Why it’s the best and worst of times for India’s burgeoning churches.
RecommendedAnn Voskamp: We Must Trade Charity for Solidarity
Ann Voskamp: We Must Trade Charity for Solidarity
An excerpt from The Broken Way
TrendingSpeak Truth to Trump
Speak Truth to Trump
Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's blatant immorality.
Editor's PickThe Year of Living Hopelessly
The Year of Living Hopelessly
2016 tempted us toward nihilism. We don’t have to go there.
Christianity Today
Considering 'Curing' Down Syndrome with Caution
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.