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Pediatrics. 2005 Jan;115(1):64-77.

Mothers of children with Down syndrome reflect on their postnatal support.

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Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. <>



Since 1964, researchers have been examining the ways in which physicians deliver a postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS). Almost all of the studies, however, have been limited to reflections or very small sample sizes. The objective of this study was to document, in the most robust comprehensive way, the reflections of mothers in the United States who received diagnoses of DS for their children.


An 11-page survey was mailed to 2945 persons on the membership lists of 5 DS parent organizations. The survey gathered both quantitative and qualitative data with yes/no questions, open-ended questions, and a series of statements asking the mothers to rate their level of agreement on a Likert scale of 1 to 7.


Of the 1250 responses (42.4%), 985 were from mothers who received postnatal diagnoses of DS for their children. The majority of these mothers reported being frightened or anxious after learning the diagnosis, and very few rated the overall experience as a positive one. Mothers reported that their physicians talked little about the positive aspects of DS and rarely provided enough up-to-date printed materials or telephone numbers of other parents with children with DS. Improvement has been made with time, albeit slowly.


Mothers have called on physicians to improve the way in which postnatal diagnoses are delivered. Specific recommendations are offered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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