Down Syndrome

Olivia Potier

What is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has an entire or partial extra copy of their twenty first chromosome. This additional genetic material changes the way someone with Down Syndrome develops. People with Down Syndrome suffer from many unusual, physical traits and struggle intellectually and socially.

How is Down Syndrome Inherited?

Down Syndrome can be inherited due to an extra chromosome or chromosome segment of chromosome #21.

An odd rearrangement of genetic material during fertilization causes there to become either three copies of chromosome 21 in each and every cell, three copies of chromosome 21 in only a few cells, or an extra fragment of chromosome 21 attached to another chromosome. Down Syndrome is not inherited from generation to generation. Rather, it's caused by an odd event during, or after, fertilization. Also, the majority of people with Down Syndrome are unable or unlikely to reproduce.

How common is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is one of the most common genetic birth defects in the United States and in the world. About 6,000 babies are diagnosed with Down Syndrome each year in the US. Down Syndrome is equally common among all races and areas of the world.

In the picture below, the process of an extra 21st chromosome being added during fertilization is shown.

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Physical traits of people with Down Syndrome include low muscle tone, small stature, & an upward slant on the eyes

How is Down Syndrome Diagnosed?

Down Syndrome is often diagnosed during or immediately after a pregnancy. There are two types of tests taken.

1. Screening Test

2. Diagnostic Test

If a pregnant woman takes a screening test and it shows a chance of the baby having down syndrome, a diagnostic test can be ordered for later down the road to determine if the baby really does have down syndrome.

Possible Treatments?

There is no cure for Down Syndrome. Once born with it, you'll have it for the rest of your life. However, there are always no medicines, procedures, and therapies coming out to improve the quality of life for people with Down Syndrome.

Treatments are based off of each individual person because everyone has different needs. Some people have treatments like...

- a lifelong special diet

- therapists or doctors to provide stimulation and encouragement

- speech-language therapy

- physical therapy

- emotional therapy

-behavioral therapy

-occupational therapy (helps them adjust to everyday tasks)

- (NEW) psychoactive drugs

- assisstive devices (hearing aids)

Symptoms, Lifestyle & Future

While there are a few physical traits distinct to Down Syndrome, there are also many health issues that include, but certainly are not limited to:

-learning disability
-social disability
-developmental delays
-thyroid disease
-heart disease
-immune deficiency
-hearing loss
-speech delay

Often times, people with Down Syndrome struggle in the real world. Especially for kids, social lives are very difficult and its hard for them to make friends. Sometimes, kids with Down Syndrome are put in separate classes at school to be around more people like them. However, most of the time, kids with Down Syndrome are able to play sports and games with their friends just like any other kids.

When kids with Down Syndrome grow older, they often have to live with family or in some form of assisted care. AND in recent years, the life expectancy of people with Down Syndrome has increased drastically. The life expectancy is now 60 years old.

Overall, while people with Down Syndrome suffer with many health, physical, and intellectual issues, they are very similar to all the rest of us.

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