Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Some interesting Down's Statistics

The concept that, because Trig Palin has Down's Syndrome, this "proves" Sarah, not Bristol is his mother, keeps cropping up. I did some research on the actual numbers, and found out one or two surprising things. First, there is a slightly higher chance of Down's with very young mothers (15-19) than for mothers in their early twenties. The rate of Down's for women 15-19 years of age is 1/1250 while for women 20-24 years of age it's 1/1400. So while it's not a huge difference, it is interesting that the risk is higher, even by a little bit.

Here are the numbers I came up with. Right now in the US, we're sitting right around 4,000,000 births per year. According to the CDC for 2006, approximately 435,000 babies were born to women between 15-19. Based on this, taken with the 1/1250 ratio above, this gives us the information that approximately 350 Down's infants will be born to young women between 15 and 19 each year in the US. So while it's not a large number, it does occur often enough that it should not be considered so rare that it would be implausible.

And to a couple of people who have suggested to me that perhaps the Down's is also a fabrication: I doubt that. I'm certainly not an infant development specialist, but I have seen several photographs of Trig Palin in which I feel his Down's characteristics are very noticeable.


Anonymous said...

I'm no expert either, but I've seen pictures of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome and it looks like it could fit. Maybe someone who is more expert could explain the difference in physical effects of Down's Syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Anonymous said...

My friend is from a family of eight children. Her parents married at 18, had their first child at 19. The first child has Down's. None of the rest do.

Because of this I've always discounted the argument that Bristol could not be Trig's mother.

Morgan said...

I think it's kind of odd that Sarah said in the ADN interview that a person couldn't tell this early that Trig had Downs, when in some photos he does. A mother in denial? Or a grandmother hoping for some sort of miracle to "cure" him?

Audrey said...

A reader wrote in with this interesting comparison to explain this in a way that's easier to understand.

Let's say you know two people both of whom bought lottery tickets. Mary had bought ten tickets; John had bought one. Prior to the lottery drawing, if you were betting on which one was more likely to win, you'd pick Mary. In fact she has a ten times greater chance of winning than John. Does this mean it is impossible for John to win? Of course not. It's just more likely that Mary will win.

The drawing is held. John wins. Mary begins insisting that it is impossible for John to have won because she had a ten times greater chance of winning.

Is Mary correct? No. John had the winning ticket, and he won.

The situation with the Down's babies is identical. If you have a 44 year old woman and a 17 year old woman pregnant simultaneously, the chances that the 44 year old woman will have a Down's baby is much higher. That does not mean that is impossible for the 17 year old to have a Down's baby, just that it's far more likely for the 44 year old.

And if a Down's baby were born to the 17 year old, and she began insisting that it could not be her baby, because after all the 44 year old woman had a much greater chance of having a baby with the defect, we'd recognize that as completely wrong.

As to the fetal alcohol syndrome, I am not an expert either. I do know that a lot of the physical features are similar. However, I seem to recall from my training that FAS is a result of some really serious drinking during pregnancy, night after night drinking a fifth of scotch or something. Obviously no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but I would tend to doubt that this level of drinking could have occurred in this family, no matter who the mother was. I may be wrong about this - and please someone correct me if I am - but while certain birth defects can occur as a result of a few binges early in pregnancy, that will not lead to FAS.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, in addition to mental retardation, fetal alcohol syndrome can cause the following physical effects: Small head - known as microcephaly; Small eyes, these may look wide set; Mid-face defects --flattening of the cheekbones, lack of definition between the nose and lip,pug nose, small chin, extra skin in the middle part of eye.

There are pictures all over the internet of Bristol Palin's teenage sister-in-law to be drinking. The National Enquirer (which certainly proved reliable regarding John Edwards) reports a video of Bristol smoking pot. The National Enquirer also had this quote about Bristol from a classmate: “Bristol was a huge stoner and drinker. I’ve seen her smoke pot and get drunk and make out with so many guys. All the guys would brag that the just made out with Bristol.” And again, the National Enquirer is not always reliable, but they have been reliable many times.

So no, it would not shock me if Bristol Palin was drinking heavily during pregnancy, especially in early pregnancy when she may not have known she was pregnant.

Audrey said...

Morgan, to clarify, Sarah Palin said to the Anchorage Daily News that Trig has no visible signs of Down's three days after his birth. She has not said it recently. That he has some "challenge" is clearly visible from photographs, and I am sure she is aware of it.

Anonymous said...

(And as I just noted in another comment--if you pick a 17-year-old and a 44-year-old who are NOT known to be pregnant, which is the case here, the 44-year-old is only around 3 times as likely as the 17-year-old to have a baby with Down's Syndrome; she may be way more likely to have a baby with Down's Syndrome if she's pregnant, but she's also way less likely to have gotten pregnant in the first place.)

Anonymous said...

I am a pediatrician and there should be absolutely no doubt that Trig Palin (no matter who his mother actually is!) has Down Syndrome.

He has the classic DS facies, the flat feet (photos of Levi's sister holding Trig soon after birth clearly show his flat feet--typical shape for a Down's infant) a large tongue that frequently protrudes, and most of all the very poor tone of a Down infant.

Down Syndrome babies are very 'floppy' their first year of life, and often require physical therapy to better enable them to meet developmental milestones. Frankly, I'm not sure how Palin is managing to do that, dragging Trig around as a political prop.

Watch any Palin family member hold Trig, and note that he does not hold himself up at all -- even as a 5 month old he is floppy as a doll, and not much more active than a newborn.

Fetal Alcohol Effects/Syndrome infants in actuality do not look like Down infants all that much, and tend to not have the same problems with tone. They tend to be learning delayed, and have a different facies: wide set eyes, flattened midface and wide/smooth philtrum (the area between the nose and mouth).

As a physician, I personally believe that Bristol is that baby's mother. Bristol holds Trig like a mother, soothes him like a mother and gazes at him like a mother. Sarah Palin absolutely does not. I see mothers look at their infants every day. Sarah Palin NEVER looks at Trig like that. And no 18 yo self-proclaimed redneck is going to kiss an infant that isn't his like Levi does in that widely circulated RNC photo of him, Bristol and Trig.

It's amazing to me that Sarah Palin has gotten away with the stories she's told of Trig's 'birth' -- simply put, they just don't add up.

Other docs I've seen posting online all say the same thing: if the story of her airline travel for hours and the planned place of birth in a community hospital, etc, for a pre-term sprecial needs infant were true, then her doctor should/would have had her medical license revoked for sure.

It is amazing that this doc is nowhere to be found since the VP announcement. It's hard to hide a doc -- we're usually very easy to find!

--An anonymous pediatrician in AZ (who is NOT a McCain/Palin supporter)

Audrey said...

This doctor is not "no where to be found" since the VP announcement. This doctor has refused to give any statement to the press regarding this birth since about four days after the birth in April.

I have asked this question until I am blue in the face, but have never gotten an answer: Wouldn't it have been a whole lot better for your minor daughter to have the physician who was present at your birth give a 90-second news conference, perhaps accompanied by the CEO of the hospital and one nurse, stating unequivocally that Sarah Palin is the biological mother of Trig Palin and he was born at this hospital on April 18, 2008? But no. Instead you announce to the whole world that your child is pregnant to "prove" that YOU had a baby.

Tina in CA said...

I read something yesterday that I thought was a very touching, thoughful post on another site by a mother whose own child has Down Syndrome. I wanted to share it with my friends here at Palin's Deceptions. Here is the link:,2211.0.html

I think you'll agree that it is a good article.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about something. Audrey said that Sarah said that Trig had no signs of DS 3 days after birth. However, I thought I read somewhere that one of the younger daughters pointed out, in the hospital, that Trig appeared to have DS. So which is it: he appears to have Down's, or he doesn't? I don't think they would make up his having DS; if if he deosn't "look it" now, he will in the future. If he does not have DS, everyone will know that this was a whopping lie.