If you want to know some Down syndrome facts and how does Down syndrome affect a person’s life, read on! Before moving on to the interesting facts about Down syndrome, let’s check out what is Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder, where the person has an additional copy of Chromosome 21, which affects the development and leads to characteristics that are typically associated with Down syndrome.
These people have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. It is not a disease or an illness, but rather a genetic condition. Persons with this syndrome share some of the common features, though they also resemble their immediate family.
Typical traits are distinct facial features, short stature, learning difficulties and delay in development, though every person is unique and their IQ can vary vastly.
Exciting Facts on Down Syndrome
Down Syndrome is Named After John Langdon Down
What does he have to do with the syndrome? He is called the father of the Down syndrome.
- He was the first person to write about this condition and he named it Mongolism.
- He was an English physician and was the medical superintendent at the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, Surrey. Here is where he described what he termed Mongolian idiocy.
- He based his findings on the diameters of the head, the palate and other clinical photographs.
- Although others had also recognized the syndrome characteristics, it was Langdon Down who first described this condition as a distinct entity and published an accurate description of the condition with down syndrome symptoms.
How Growing Up is Different for Children with Down Syndrome
One of the essential Down syndrome facts is that children with Down’s syndrome also go through the same developmental stages as a normal child, but they develop at a slower pace.
- It takes a longer time for such children to achieve a milestone, such as sitting or crawling, walking and talking etc.
- For instance, crawling normally takes place when the child is about 8 months old. For children with Down’s syndrome, it might take 18 months. Walking takes place around 28 months whereas it’s just 12 months for a normal child.
- They don’t develop motor skills, as they have reduced muscle tone and strength. They may need physical therapy.
- Learning can also be difficult resulting in intellectual delay.
Visual learning can greatly benefit these children, as they are quickly able to grasp visual cues.
1 In Every 700 Babies in the US are Born with Down Syndrome
Down’s syndrome is the most common among chromosomal conditions, with about 6000 babies being born every year in the US having this condition.
- An important aspect of the Down syndrome facts is that it is the most commonly occurring genetic chromosomal disorder.
- It is estimated that 1 in 1000 or 1 in 1100 live births have Down syndrome worldwide, according to the WHO.
- Some people have mild intellectual or developmental issues, whereas others might have more severe complications.
- Some might be physically healthy while others could have heart defects.
- The most common type is Trisomy 21, accounting for 95% of the syndrome, whereas other types are Translocation and Mosaicism. However, in all three types, the person has an additional pair of chromosome 21.
- It can occur in any race.
Down Syndrome Facts – A Teenager is a Teenager, Whether a Normal One or One with Down’s Syndrome
- Children with Down’s syndrome also go through puberty, have the same hormones and face the same emotional changes. They have the same hopes and dreams that other children of the world have.
- They also need ‘the talk’ in facto all the more so, as they are more at risk of getting sexual assaults.
- Children with Down’s syndrome also experience rejection, isolation, devastation and depression, especially when they don’t get invited to parties or for hanging out with other ‘normal’ kids.
It is important for these kids to be involved in sports and other extracurricular activities, where they can find success, as it helps them build self-esteem, get a sense of belonging and creates a community for them.
Carriers Can Be Both Father and Mother
Another aspect to remember when considering Down syndrome facts is that it is a genetic disease and can be inherited from either of the parents.
- Though it can be translocated by either parent, only 5% of cases have been linked to the paternal side. The risk of translocation occurring again is 3% if it comes from the father’s side and more, 10 to 15% if it comes from the mother’s side.
- The mother’s age is a factor for the incidence, as a more advanced age of pregnancy results in an increased risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities.
- A mother who has already had a Down syndrome affected baby stands a higher risk of having another.
- A 20 year old mothers stand a risk of 1 in 1500
- At 30 years the risk is 1 in 80.
- At 35 years the risk is 1 in 270
- At 40 years the risk is 1 in 100
- At 45 years the risk is 1 in 50
It is advisable to get a screening test or prenatal testing for conception in these ages.
Half of the Infants with Down Syndrome Suffer from Heart Conditions
Almost 50% of such children suffer from congenital heart defects or CHD.
- The commonly noted heart conditions in these children are atrioventricular septal defect; patent ductus arteriosus; and tetralogy of Fallot.
Some of the early symptoms are fast or irregular breathing; cyanosis or blueness in the fingers, toes and around the mouth. However, not all children exhibit such symptoms early in their life.
Down Syndrome Can Be Detected During Pregnancy
There are prenatal as well as postnatal tests that can be done in order to look out for Down’s syndrome.
- One is a diagnostic test and the other is a screening test.
Remember: Postnatal tests can be done if the typical features associated with Down’s syndrome are seen in the child.
- While checking out Down syndrome facts, it is essential to know that genetic tests are done after the baby is delivered to check out the appearance and the number of chromosomes in the baby. This is done by having a blood test of the baby.
- Screening tests are offered to all women during pregnancy.
However, it will not give a definite yes or no answer about the baby’s condition. If the screening test shows a higher risk, you can go in for a diagnostic test prenatally to check out whether the foetus has the syndrome.
However, a diagnostic test also presents the risk of a miscarriage, so it is not offered to all, though screening tests do not pose such a risk.
Expected Life Span
Life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has dramatically increased from 1960 to 2007.
- Earlier, the life expectancy was about 10 years, whereas in 2007 the average increased to 47 years.
- It depends on the weight of the infant. Infants with very low birth weight are more likely to die at an early age compared to those of normal birth weight.
- Again, African American infants have a lower chance of survival.
- Infants with CHD, congenital heart defect, are also likely to die earlier.
Leading a Normal Life
Though the condition is incurable, according to experts, they can continue to live a normal life if they have acceptance and early intervention by their families.
- They can be socially independent.
- They can do well if offered the proper stimulus and care, put in special schools and encouraged to take part in sports and other activities.
- Women with DS can get pregnant and have children and men with Down’s syndrome can father children.
Note: March 21st is celebrated as World Down Syndrome Day!
Last Word – Down Syndrome Facts
When considering the Down syndrome facts, it is important to note that there is no cure for Down syndrome and it cannot be prevented. However, today, people with Down’s syndrome are leading fuller lives, as there is a better understanding of their potential to excel in several areas.
They are strong, talented and very loving, so if you give them a good educational or vocational training, they can lead a richer life and be a valuable part of the community, providing them with greater confidence and higher self-esteem.
Today, more than ever, there are many opportunities for children with Down Syndrome, for attending schools, holding responsible jobs and participating in sports and other leisure activities as well as having healthy relationships. Some of them even marry and women having this syndrome can even become pregnant and have children.
However, early intervention is the key to the child reaching its full potential. So, the earlier you learn about the condition, the better you will be equipped to setting up the child for success in life!