National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

15 Oct
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National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month. It is a chance for us to raise awareness and celebrate abilities rather than disabilities. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development resulting from the presence of an extra chromosome. Individuals with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. The presence of the additional chromosome alters development and causes the characteristics that are associated with Down Syndrome, including…

  • Low muscle tone
  • Small stature
  • An upward slant to the eyes
  • A single deep crease across the center of the palm

Down Syndrome occurs in approximately one in every 691 live births, making it the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder. There are about 400,000 Americans diagnosed with Down Syndrome and approximately 6,000 babies born with the disorder each year in the United States.

There are three different types of Down Syndrome:

  1. Trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) – accounts for 95% of known cases of Down Syndrome.
  2. Translocation – accounts for 4% of all cases of Down Syndrome.
  3. Mosaicism – accounts for only 1% of all cases of Down Syndrome and research has indicated that individuals with mosaic Down Syndrome may have fewer characteristics than those with the other two types.

Down Syndrome is usually identified at birth or shortly thereafter. Initially, the diagnosis is based on physical characteristics that are commonly seen in babies with Down Syndrome. The diagnosis must be confirmed by a chromosome study, known as a karyotype. This provides a visual display of the chromosomes grouped by size, number, and shape. This study may be performed by examining blood or tissue cells.

So, take a moment and celebrate the abilities and accomplishments of individuals with Down Syndrome.

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