Reporter 421, 27 May 1998

Community chips in to fund vital research into Down’s

Members of a local community have clubbed together to raise funds for a pilot study at the University into why women under the age of 30 give birth to children with Down’s syndrome.

Bramhope Round Table held a series of quiz nights, a raffle and a barn dance to generate £1,135 to support the University’s research into the causes of the syndrome.

Although small in comparison to most medical funding, the donation could make a big difference, according to Professor of Reproductive Epidemiology Howard Cuckle. He sees it as a stepping stone to a larger study: “Now we can set up the pilot project, which will make further funding easier to obtain.”

Leeds has a reputation that is second to none in the world for research into Down’s syndrome, and the University co-ordinates 1,000 researchers through the International Down’s syndrome Group.

Because the incidence of Down’s Syndrome is less frequent in mothers under the age of 30, Professor Cuckle and Professor of Reproductive Biology Roger Gosden hope to discover differences in the biology of women who conceive healthy and Down’s babies at this age. Research will compare women’s ovaries to discover the nature of premature ovarian ageing.

Melanie Graham, co-ordinator of Bramhope Round Table, has her own personal reasons for supporting such research. Between having two healthy children, she experienced three times the 85% effective ‘triple test’ invented by Professor Cuckle. Her middle test indicated that she was carrying a foetus with severe Down’s syndrome. “I know what it’s like to have a healthy baby and I know what it’s like to find you’re carrying a baby with severe Down’s syndrome,” she says. “I hope the money will ease the pain of others.”

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