In my last post, and for the past two weeks perhaps, I’ve been struggling with the idea of death, with the idea of life, with questions as to what constitutes “the good” in either case. There has also been some contemplation over choices in my past that could ultimately effect the future, and other future events that would be entirely out of my hands. One of the newly acquired bits of knowledge that caused contemplation of “life quality” revolved around children, the creation and formation of a child inside a woman and ultimately, the life of a child that will grow up into an adult.
It seems there is quite a bit that can go wrong.
There has been a shift in time, an evolutionary shift where women are having children later in life, and we are having less of them. This is happening for a few different reasons and one main reason is that with advances in medicine, children are more likely to survive and we are no longer compelled to produce a ton of them to ensure our DNA will continue in the future. Not only are we having less children, but we are also having them much later in life than our ancestors, from 2011 to 1950 to 1750, the average age of women who give birth today is much older than what it once was. In fact, in 1970, 80 per 1,000 birth were between 20-24, as opposed to 2005’s drop to 48 per 1,000. Put this against the 1970 statistic that 5 per 1,000 births by women 30-34, whereas in 2005, 26 per 1,000! (Stats from the US department of Healthy and Human Services, 2006) Instead, we are opting to get educations, build careers, or simply wait. I am waiting to have children until I’ve sufficiently created a life in which the child will not have to struggle with anything more serious than math homework, or want for the best. But there is risk involved in this choice, and my Child Development class did an excellent job of illustrating the precise risks associated with creating children… (this upcoming statistic shows risk of giving birth to a Down Syndrome Child, also known as Trisomy 21 because there is an extra chromosome on the 21st pair of homologous chromosomes).
Maternal Age: Risk
20 1 in 1,900 births
25 1 in 1,200
30 1 in 900
33 1 in 600
36 1 in 280
42 1 in 130
45 1 in 30
48 1 in 15
What scares me most are disorders that we know almost nothing about. Disorders like Autism, where all we know is that Fragile X syndrome has been linked to 2 to 3 percent of cases, that “an abnormal repetition of a sequence of DNA bases occurs in a special spot on the X chromosome, damaging a particular gene,”and that it is “a serious disorder usually diagnosed in early childhood that involves impaired social interaction, delayed or absent language and communication and repetitive motor behavior.” (Goodlin-Jones et al., 2004) Where the best guesses draw correlations between vaccines and symptoms of the syndrome. I tip my hat to all the parents in this world providing for and loving a child with a difficulty like this, and especially to the scientists, researchers and advocates that are out there fighting to discover the cause, and hopeful for a cure.
If you are in Dallas on April 9th, go out and fight along side these brave and strong people. For 25 tax deductible dollars, you can help fund research at UT Southwestern Hospital and contribute to The Warrior Parents of Dallas Benevolent Fund. Go and have a good time in the name of a good cause…I would…