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Early Down syndrome diagnoses bring wrenching choices

Science develops accurate tests, bringing ethical and emotional complexities

5:27 PM, May 2, 2013
Melanie Perkins McLaughlin, twirls her daughter Gracie McLaughlin, 5. McLaughlin chose to continue her pregnancy after learning at 20 weeks pregnant that her daughter would have Down syndrome.
Melanie Perkins McLaughlin, twirls her daughter Gracie McLaughlin, 5. McLaughlin chose to continue her pregnancy after learning at 20 weeks pregnant that her daughter would have Down syndrome.
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Melanie Perkins McLaughlin sat in a stranger's living room, 20 weeks pregnant and filled with fear. Only days earlier, she had learned that her much-wanted baby - conceived after two miscarriages - had Down syndrome.

Doctors had made the diagnosis by first screening McLaughlin with a test that analyzes proteins and hormones in a woman's blood. Her results were confirmed with an amniocentesis, an invasive procedure that allows doctors to analyze cells from amniotic fluid.

Doctors gave McLaughlin the option to terminate but told her she would have to decide quickly. Massachusetts allows ...

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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