Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal cause of developmental delay. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
The exact cause and prevention of Down syndrome are currently unknown.
The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives
There is a wide variation in mental abilities, behavior and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has a unique personality, capabilities and talents.
30-50 percent of individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8-12 percent have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth. Most are now correctable by surgery.
In adulthood, many people with Down syndrome hold jobs, live independently and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities.
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Facts from www.ndss.org