What You Should Know About Down Syndrome
One in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, but there are a lot of misconceptions about this diagnosis. People with Down syndrome are capable of living very fulfilling lives - they are students, friends, family, co-workers, and are often very involved in making decisions for their lives, their health care, and their communities.
So, what is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition affecting the genetic makeup of a patient. Usually, a person’s cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes in their nuclei. Patients with Down syndrome have a full or partial extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This manifests physically and cognitively, but varies in severity from patient to patient. Typically, patients present with low muscle tone, small stature, upward slanted eyes, weak neck muscles, and one single deep crease across their palm. Cognitively, patients with Down Syndrome may exhibit delayed emotional and behavioral growth. Some patients with Down Syndrome may also exhibit a learning disability, but this is not true for all patients. Further, patients with Down Syndrome may be at higher risk for heart defects at birth, vision problems, hearing loss, and infections in general.
How likely is Down Syndrome?
For women who are 35 years old and younger, the chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome is about 1 in 350. However, this chance increases to 1 in 100 by the time a woman reaches the age of 40. At 45, the chance is about 1 in 30, and will continue to increase with increasing age.
All three types of Down syndrome (trisomy 21, translocation, and mosiacism) are genetic, but 1% of cases can be hereditary (passed down from a parent to a child).
Down syndrome can occur in all people, regardless of race or economic status.
Life with Down Syndrome
People with Down syndrome are able to live fulfilling and productive lives because of quality educational programs, stimulating home environments, health care, and positive support from the community, friends, and family. Most communities in the U.S. have family support groups and many other organizations which provide a wide variety of services to families of individuals with Down syndrome. You can find a list of groups at http://www.ndss.org/Resources/Local-Support.
For information regarding CapitalCare's Down syndrome resources, follow the link below:
For more information about Down syndrome, visit the National Down Syndrome Society website at: http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/