OSAKA – An Okayama University team’s poll of 557 pregnant women has found that 5.7 percent would have an abortion if an initial blood test indicated the likelihood of fetal chromosomal abnormalities.
The survey was the first large-scale study on pregnant women in Japan after a new prenatal blood test was introduced in April to screen for Down syndrome and other conditions, according to the group.
If the women test positive, the chances that their fetuses have Down syndrome are 80-95 percent for those aged 35 or older. The test does not offer a conclusive diagnosis.
“There is a fear that, if the women have an abortion without waiting for (the more accurate) tests such as amniotic fluid test, human lives may be selected (for termination) casually,” a member of the group said.
The team, including Mikiya Nakatsuka, a professor at the university, polled pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44, visiting hospitals in the Chugoku region from March to June.
After respondents answered questions about their knowledge of medical tests and diagnostic accuracy, they answered questions about how they would evaluate the results of the prenatal test.
If the result was positive, 74 percent said they would “have an amniotic fluid test,” and 20.3 percent said they would “continue their pregnancy without having the amniotic fluid test.” Thirty-two people, or 5.7 percent, said they would end the pregnancy without having the fluid test.
Among the latter group, 59.4 percent said they would abort because there is “a possibility of abnormality, even if it is slight.” Many also said they would “feel sorry for the fetus if aborted at a later stage.”
Only 34.5 percent realized that “there is a need to find out whether the abnormality is real or not through an amniotic fluid test.”