Dáil Éireann - Volume 364 - 20 March, 1986

Written Answers. - Down's Syndrome Births.

69. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a statement by the chief executive officer of the North Western Health Board and to a report submitted by him to board members relating to the alarmingly high incidence of Down's Syndrome in County Donegal; and, because of the serious disquiet and growing concern in the county, if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. B. Desmond): I am aware of the statement and report of the chief executive officer of the North Western Health Board about the incidence of Down's Syndrome births in County Donegal.

I have commissioned a study under the chairmanship of the deputy chief medical officer of my Department to consider the [2453] situation. The purpose of the study is: (1) to determine if Donegal has in fact a higher than average incidence of Down's Syndrome; (2) further, to determine if the apparent increase in incidence rate for Down's Syndrome in Donegal in 1985 is peculiar to that county; and (3) to examine the incidence of Down's Syndrome in Donegal in 1986.

A further stage in this study will be to look into the etiology of Down's Syndrome in Ireland by carrying out a case control study. Until the results of these studies are available and have been analysed, it would be premature to express an opinion about the factors which are likely to have contributed to the incidences referred to.