The Brutal Remedy for Mongolism

Monday, August 28th, 2017

What interesting news the mainstream Italian newspaper La Repubblica recently had! “Down Syndrome: In Iceland they choose to avoid it”:

And avoid it they do: The tweet-text below the picture goes on to report how only 1 or 2 babies afflicted with that genetic irregularity are born in Iceland each year.

Let’s have a reminder that Down Syndrome is certainly nothing anyone would want to see in their new infant; from Wikipedia:

Those with Down syndrome nearly always have physical and intellectual disabilities. As adults, their mental abilities are typically similar to those of an 8- or 9-year-old. They also typically have poor immune function and generally reach developmental milestones at a later age. They have an increased risk of a number of other health problems, including congenital heart defect, epilepsy, leukemia, thyroid diseases, and mental disorders, among others.

Further, and to be blunt, people with Down Syndrome have a certain common look: “a small chin, slanted eyes . . . a small mouth,” etc. Not something you like to see; and it was this appearance that led the doctor who originally described the syndrome back in 1862, John Langdon Down, to initially call those suffering from it “mongoloid” as he felt they resembled the so-called Mongoloid race in Asia. (These days, use of that term is strongly discouraged; I only have it in this post’s headline because I needed something short and with brutal shock-value.)

Icelandic babies, then, are to a remarkable degree spared such anguish* – innocents spared a stunted (and likely shortened) life assigned purely due to the cruel vagaries of chance. Perhaps even more significantly, Icelandic parents as well are spared what are certainly the much greater – and longer – demands on them, both financially and emotionally, to support their child in living as happy a life as he or she can.

Fantastic! Then again, perhaps that this comes out of Iceland is the least surprising thing. Many are aware how people there share a unique common genome-set, due to the fact that almost all of them are descendants of a limited group of Viking explorers who first settled the North Atlantic island starting towards the end of the ninth century A.D. (OK, and maybe also of the Irish slaves they brought there.) This remarkable fact once led Wired magazine to call Iceland “the world’s greatest genetic laboratory,” due to the remarkable genetics research that has been carried there in recent years, taking advantage of that national genetic homogeneity. (more…)

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