As a common genetic condition, there seem to be many things that people need to know about Down Syndrome. Dr. John Lang Down first described this condition in 1866. In 1959, Dr. Jerome Leujeune identified the cause of the syndrome to be the full or partial triplication of chromosome 21. This results in frequent physical and developmental characteristics among people with this condition. More often than not, the syndrome also comes with other medical conditions such as heart diseases. Aside from these, below are some things you need to know about Down Syndrome.
The syndrome’s most important characteristics
1. As already mentioned, Down syndrome is caused by having an extra chromosome. What does this mean? Most people only have 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46. However, individuals with Down syndrome either have an extra chromosome (making it 47), or one of their chromosomes has an additional part. This extra genetic material is what causes their bodies to develop differently from others.
2. People with Down syndrome are more predisposed to certain medical conditions. About half of the children born with Down syndrome are also born with heart defects. Others also have intestinal problems; suffer from sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. People with Down syndrome have shared physical traits. This includes a flatter face, low muscle tone, and an upward slant to the eyes. Each person with Down person is unique and may possess these characteristics in varying degrees.
4. Children with Down syndrome develop more slowly compared to other children. They tend to start walking or talking later than other children their age. Professional help such as physical therapy or speech therapy may help children with Down syndrome boost their physical and talking skills.
5. People with Down syndrome are not “retarded” but merely have intellectual disabilities. Like other people, they also have unique skills and abilities. They also have room for improvement and also grow and develop from childhood to adulthood like others do.
6. In the past, people with Down syndrome did not live past childhood because of the several complications from the other conditions that they had at birth. However, the times have changed, and with the advancement of the field of medicine, people with Down syndrome are now able to live up to 60 years old.
Is there a cure?
In recent years, no cure has yet to be discovered for Down syndrome. However, but scientists continue to conduct research to prevent it from happening or at least to improve the living conditions of those who have Down syndrome.