Down Syndrome

Causes, symptoms, who it affects, and more

Down Syndrome and its cause, along with how it got its name.

Down syndrome was discovered in 1866 by John Langdon Down, and was named in 1956 as a chromosomal condition by Jérôme Lejeune. Down syndrome is caused by nondisjunction, with an extra chromosome 21. This results in Trisomy 21, another name for Down syndrome.

Can it be predicted?

Parents can get prenatal tests done to see if their child has an intellectual disability (ID) like Down syndrome, but the doctors cannot predict the severity of the disability if they find that the child has one.

What are the symptoms of Down syndrome?

For experienced doctors, it isn't usually hard for them to determine whether or not a child has Down syndrome once it's born. There are a number of physical signs that can show the disease when the child is an infant, such as small ears and mouth, inability to move or stretch muscles, excessive skin at the nape of the neck, and a broad, short skull.

Who is affected?

Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal disorder, with 1 in about 700 babies being born with it. More males than females are affected, but the odds are similar.

What can you do for people with Down syndrome?

In youth, kids with Down syndrome need more assistance for daily activities that kids without it don't normally require, but it varies by case how much the child can do on its own. It also varies by case how much medical assistance the child with Down syndrome will need throughout his/her life. Many children see a physical therapist, especially at young ages, so they can learn how to use their muscles properly and build strength. Those with Down syndrome are overall more susceptible to a variety of diseases, so they may need different types of care throughout their lives, like special diets if they have stomach problems or heart surgeries right after birth if there is a defect. The life expectancy for those affected with Down syndrome has gone up recently, and while there are different factors that can affect it, most are expected to live to about sixty. There are no specific treatments and no cures yet, but just learning about the person affected with Down syndrome and altering what you do to help them and meet their needs does wonders. There are no ways for Down syndrome to be cured before or after birth, but it can be predicted, so parents can start making arrangements and preparations before they have the baby.

Can those with Down syndrome have children? Will they also have the disease?

Yes! Those with Down syndrome are fertile though they have lower fertility rates than those that don't have the disease. There's a 35-50% chance that the child will have Down syndrome as well.

Is research still being done?

Currently, research is continuing to see if a cure is possible for Down syndrome, and there are fundraising walks and other events frequently throughout the world and the US!
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October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month!