Mum of little boy with Down syndrome wants doctors to think twice about their language in viral post

Medical professionals vowed to stop using the word “risk” when talking to pregnant women after reading her powerful message.

A mum with a 5-year-old son with Down syndrome has taken to Facebook with a thought-provoking post about the language used by medical professionals talking to pregnant women about “risk”.

Sarah Roberts, whose little boy Oscar has the condition, is on a mission to stop the word risk being used, due to its negative connotations.

“If you look up the word risk in the dictionary, it says ‘a situation involving exposure to danger,’” the mum wrote on Facebook.

“The reason I’ve been known to talk about this on here before, is because last time I looked, having Oscar hasn’t exposed me or anyone else to danger. Quite the opposite. So I (along with a lot of other parents of kids with DS) feel that ‘chance’ would be a much better use of language.”

Sarah, who lives in the UK, is calling on doctors, nurses and sonographers, to start saying there is a “chance” of a child being born with Down syndrome instead.

It seriously resonated with people on Facebook. At time of publishing, the post had over 19,000 likes and almost 5,000 shares.

But the comments from medical professionals were even more encouraging of Sarah’s post.

“Thank you so much for writing this,” one person replied to the post. “I am a midwife and had never reflected upon the use of this language. It’s an emotive word and it’s one I always need to explain, chance would be far easier for people to understand and whilst children with DS have higher risk of certain health issues you are completely correct.”

“I’m a midwife and I totally agree with this,” agreed another. “I am also currently 31 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and also don’t like all the letters sent talking about ‘risk’, instead of ‘chance’ or ‘likelihood’. I did have a combined test, but only because we have a risk of pre-eclampsia and wanted a PAPP-A result to look at this. My husband and I spoke a lot about it before the testing, as we know it would make no difference – our baby is our baby, since conception and for all their life.”

“I qualify as a midwife next month and this will stick with me,” another woman said. “The words we use are very powerful to families during such a transformative time of their lives and we should always remember that.

“I’m a paediatrician (and parent),” another began. “Honestly never thought about this but completely agree. If it comes up in practice will definitely think about my wording. Thank you.”

Sarah documents the adorable Oscar’s life on her blog, ‘Don’t Be Sorry’.

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