Parents Get $2.9M in Down Syndrome Girl ‘Wrongful Birth’ Suit

By Olivia Katrandjian

Mar 10, 2012 9:34pm
gty sonogram tk 120310 wblog Parents Get $2.9M in Down Syndrome Girl Wrongful Birth Suit

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The parents of a four-year-old Oregon girl with Down syndrome were awarded $2.9 million after doctors misdiagnosed their daughter as not having the condition during a prenatal screening.

Ariel and Deborah Levy of Portland, Ore., filed a “wrongful birth” lawsuit against Legacy Health System, claiming that they would have terminated the pregnancy had they known they would have a special-needs child.

The Levys said the doctors were “negligent in their performance, analysis and reporting” of test results after their child was born as well.

“It’s been difficult for them,” said David K. Miller, the Levy’s lawyer, according to ABC News affiliate KATU. “There’s been a lot of misinformation out there.

“These are parents who love this little girl very, very much,” Miller said. “Their mission since the beginning was to provide for her and that’s what this is all about.”

The $2.9 million will cover the estimated extra lifetime costs of caring for someone with Down syndrome.

After the decision was announced, Legacy Health issued a statement that read, “While Legacy Health has great respect for the judicial process, we are disappointed in today’s verdict. The legal team from Legacy Health will be reviewing the record and considering available options. Given this, we believe that further comment at this point would not be appropriate.”

Types of Genetic Testing

It’s unclear what type of genetic testing the couple underwent.  Genetic counselors say there are different types of screening options, including amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and an ultrasound combined with blood testing.

A blood test with an ultrasound will only predict the risk of developing Down syndrome or other genetic abnormalities, said Virginia Carver, a prenatal genetic counselor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

Amniocentesis will determine whether or not a child has Down syndrome and is considered the “gold standard” of testing, Carver said.  That test is typically about 99 percent accurate.

“But even the most accurate test isn’t 100 percent accurate,” she said.  “There is a small percentage of chance that the testing might not be correct because of human error.”

ABC News’ Kim Carollo and ABC News affiliate KATU contributed to this report.

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