What is Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is a condition that is genetic in nature. Approximately 1 in every 800 infants will be born with Down Syndrome. Those born with the syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. Any individual in any race, culture, religion or economic status can be born with Down Syndrome.

The diagnosis is usually made shortly after birth and is done upon a physical examination. The physician conducting the examination will look for the common physical traits of Down Syndrome.

These physical traits include: having low muscle tone, having a single crease across the palm of the hand on either one or both hands, facial features that are flattened and an upward slant to the eyes. A chromosomal study (karyotype) will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. This study groups the chromosomes by size, number and shape. The study is conducted by using blood or tissue samples.

Cellular Error

There is an error in cell division called “nondisjunction” at conception. The mother is not responsible for this happening in any way. Down Syndrome is not caused by anything that is consumed, smoked, or by any activity the mother may have taken part in. Down Syndrome is purely related to genetics and occurs at conception.

Individuals who have Down Syndrome may have a variety of impairments including physical, speech and development issues.

Mainstreamed or Special Education

Down Syndrome children can attend normal classes in school or they may attend special education classes. They can also participate in activities that other children can do except in some cases with support. In order for a child with Down Syndrome to have the best quality of life it is important for them to have early intervention.

Most children with Down Syndrome have health complications that vary in severity. The most common health conditions are: cardiac issues, respiratory complications, vision problems, auditory problems, susceptibility to infections and thyroid issues.

The average life expectancy of Down Syndrome individuals used to be 9 years of age, today it is 55 years of age with many living into their sixties and seventies.

Adults with Down Syndrome can succeed at jobs, maintain relationships and some have married. There are many support groups for children, families and adults that help with issues or challenges they may face at school, work or at home.

There are parent support groups that help parents of newly diagnosed newborns to find emotional support, information regarding Down Syndrome that is up-to-date and a resource to community support groups.