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October 30, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Experts look at guidelines for abortions

LOCAL medical experts have suggested the Ministry of Health set out guidelines on when a fetus should be aborted in certain circumstances.

Doctors said such a policy will protect both mother and child while also reducing unnecessary abortions.

Since early pregnancy screening technology is developing quickly, many fetal problems can be detected and treated successfully, doctors said.

"I have suggested the ministry regulate the diseases, week and other details," said Dr Duan Tao, president of the Shanghai No. 1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital and a member of the health ministry's expert commission.

The guidelines would only affect families that have found out their unborn child has a disease or deformity. The idea is to provide such families sound advice on whether they should keep the child and what to expect in the future, in terms of treatment and costs, if they do keep the baby.

Presently, the authorities only require hospitals to counsel patients if the fetus is 28 weeks or older and a deformity is found during prenatal checks.

Duan said the standard should follow the experiences of Western countries while also considering the needs of Chinese families, most of which only have one child and have to bear all medical costs if a child is born disabled.

"A unified standard can help hospitals and families," Duan said. "It can protect the health of both mother and child."

Duan added that current medical capabilities can repair many trivial deformities like cleft lips and small heart problems.

Due to the one child policy, some families will choose an abortion if they learn the unborn child has an abnormality, no matter how small, and will try to conceive another child.

"Early screening can identify 90 percent of fetuses with Down Syndrome, 20 to 30 percent higher than checks in the fourth and fifth month of pregnancy, the major testing time now," Duan said.


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