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C. What All Women Should Know About Down Syndrome

Narrator: This is Science Today. Down Syndrome, the most common cause of mental retardation, is most often associated with babies born to mothers over 35. But Dr. James Goldberg, director of the Reproductive Genetics Unit at the University of California, San Francisco, says that's not always the case.

Goldberg: Eighty percent of Down Syndrome occur in women that are below the age of 35.

Narrator: There's currently a new ultrasound procedure available for all women to screen for Down Syndrome. The new approach measures the tell-tale, abnormal fluid accumulation in the neck of the fetus called nuchal translucency. Goldberg says measuring this indicator of a chromosomal defect is more efficient than older procedures and can be performed earlier in pregnancy.

Goldberg: Now for each individual woman, their risk may be quite small, but what we can do with this type of approach to screening is give a woman her individualized risk for Down Syndrome. So I really believe that all people who want this information, it should be made available to.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.