The Jerome Lejeune Foundation is opening its doors in Spain to support research and further study of Down syndrome and bioethics to promote better care for those who are living with the condition as well as their families. The foundation’s expansion into Spain comes at a time that 90 percent of babies in the country who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are aborted In the 1950s, Dr. Jerome Lejeune discovered that Down syndrome was caused by a chromosomal abnormality. Aware of the increased number of abortions that resulted from prenatal diagnoses, he spent the rest of his life defending the dignity and value of those with the condition. Dr. Mónica Barahona, president of the Spanish arm of the foundation, announced its launch, saying that one of the foundation’s key focuses will be clinical research and fundraising to support existing research. “As Dr. Lejeune used to say: ‘We already know the cause of Down syndrome, now we need to find a way to reduce its effects’.” In addition to working to find medications, natural compounds, therapy methods and neurological stimulation that may help those with Down syndrome, Barahona said the foundation will seek to gain “deeper knowledge of which genes are involved and affected as a consequence of trisomy 21.” In short, she said, the goal is “to defend the life of every person, including those who have an extra chromosome.” Barahona emphasized that “Jerome Lejeune’s defense of life was always based on scientific and medical criteria and we believe that’s especially important today for science and biomedical research.” She stressed the importance of research being guided by “ethical criteria of bioethics” and said that societies should pay heed “to the objective scientific criteria that a human life exists from the moment of fertilization and so therefore that single cell embryo has all the rights comparable to any human being in any stage of development.” Photo credit: Denis Kuvaev via www.shutterstock.com.
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