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An elephant in the consultation room? Configuring Down Syndrome in British antenatal care

Thomas, Gareth Martin ORCID: 2016. An elephant in the consultation room? Configuring Down Syndrome in British antenatal care. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 30 (2) , pp. 238-258. 10.1111/maq.12222

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This article is based on an ethnographic study of prenatal screening for Down syndrome in two British healthcare institutions. Drawing on observations of everyday hospital life and interviews with healthcare professionals, I identify how a discussion of Down syndrome is avoided within prenatal screening consultations. This relative silence is created and upheld owing to three observations: 1) the British public is interpreted as “knowing” what Down syndrome is; 2) the organization of care dictates that the condition is not classified as important enough to justify an explanation within consultations; 3) professionals frequently admit to holding minimal knowledge of Down syndrome. This absence, together with the condition being categorized as a “risk” or “problem,” helps produce and uphold its status as a negative pregnancy outcome. I conclude by highlighting the contributions that this article has for anthropologically exploring how ideas around disability intersect with the proliferation of reproductive technologies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Healthcare Sciences
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Publisher: American Anthropological Association
ISSN: 0745-5194
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 11 May 2015
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2023 18:57

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