Background: The aim of this study was to examine trends of Down syndrome (DS) in relation to maternal age and termination of pregnancies (ToP) in 20 registries of the International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR).
Methods: Trends of births with DS (live-born and stillborn), ToP with DS, and maternal age (percentage of mothers older than 35 years) were examined by year over a 12-year period (1993-2004). The total mean number of births covered was 1550,000 annually.
Results: The mean percentage of mothers older than 35 years of age increased from 10.9% in 1993 to 18.8% in 2004. However, a variation among the different registers from 4-8% to 20-25% of mothers >35 years of age was found. The total mean prevalence of DS (still births, live births, and ToP) increased from 13.1 to 18.2/10,000 births between 1993 and 2004. The total mean prevalence of DS births remained stable at 8.3/10,000 births, balanced by a great increase of ToP. In the registers from France, Italy, and the Czech Republic, a decrease of DS births and a great increase of ToP was observed. The number of DS births remained high or even increased in Canada Alberta, and Norway during the study period.
Conclusions: Although an increase in older mothers was observed in most registers, the prevalence of DS births remained stable in most registers as a result of increasing use of prenatal diagnostic procedures and ToP with DS.
2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.