Down syndrome is not a disease or an illness; it is a chromosomal disorder where a baby is born with an extra chromosome 21. A Down syndrome person has a total of 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of the usual 46 chromosomes. It is that extra chromosome which affects a child development, physically and cognitively. There are three types of Down syndrome where the symptoms vary from severe to moderate.
Here are a few things that you should know about Down syndrome and those with this disorder:
1. Down syndrome can be recognized with characteristic physical traits like small stature, low muscle mass, flat nose, upward slanting eyes and a single deep crease line running across the palm.
2. Besides physical traits, those with Down syndrome disorders are always at a risk of developing diseases like congenital heart defects, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer's disease. Research also shows that there might be instances of celiac disease, autism, childhood leukemia, and seizures too. But a person with Down syndrome will rarely have a solid cancerous tumor or cardiovascular disease or stroke.
3. In the last few decades, people with Down syndrome have an increased life expectancy. Today a person with Down syndrome gets proper education and works in a respectable job and their longevity has increased to an average of 60 years compared to 1983 when it was just 25 years. It is because they get proper therapy for improvement in their quality of life. There are also some people with Down syndrome who have lived into their 70s and 80s.
4. Every person with Down syndrome is unique and they might possess skills in many other fields as they are a little delayed in cognitive learning. But that too differs from being mild to moderate depending on the severity of the condition.
5. The cause of Down syndrome is not definitively known but according to doctors and researchers, the risk of a child born with Down syndrome increases if the mother’s age is above 35 years.
Down syndrome is not a disease and there is no medicine to cure it, but nowadays there are many therapeutic services, intervention programs and treatments available to improve symptoms related to Down syndrome. Such therapies help with the physical and cognitive development of children with Down syndrome and improve their quality of life in the long run.
People with Down syndrome need love, respect, and support to find a place in society and live a great life.