Medicine persists in characterizing Down's syndrome as more prevalent among older mothers a result of "tired eggs". However, in one study in Copenhagen, of 1086 pregnant women given amniocentesis, the actual incidence of abnormalities among the so called "high risk" women over 35 was 1.2 per cent, compared with 1.4 per cent in the "low risk" group, demonstrating that Down's syndrome may have nothing to do with age. Dr Warner says that the average age of the mothers of his Down's patients is 29.
Some new evidence lends weight to the view that Down's syndrome is an environmental disease, chiefly caused by radiation and other toxins. Researchers from the Freie University in Berlin discovered a direct link between Down's syndrome which suddenly increased sixfold in the city in January 1987 and the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident, which happened nine months earlier (BMJ, 1994, 309: 158-62). It seemed that mothers were breathing in high levels of radiation for two weeks after the accident, during which time they conceived.Furthermore, the average age of the mothers with Down's babies during the year of the nuclear accident was virtually identical to the average age the decade before discounting the possibility that age had anything to do with it. Other research has shown a similar relationship between Down's syndrome and high levels of radiation or nuclear fallout (J Epidemio and Commun Health, 1995; 49: 164-70).
Dr Warner has evidence that areas with high levels of petrochemicals, such as Louisiana and eastern Texas, have high levels of Down's syndrome, as does Monterey, Mexico, where there are extraordinary levels of pollution.