In light of Down syndrome Awareness Month, here are 15 facts about Down Syndrome, as pulled from the National Association for Down Syndrome website:
1. Dr. Jerome Lejeune first described Down Syndrome at a chromosome 21 trisomy in 1959.
2. Down syndrome is actually named after a doctor who first described the disease. His name was Dr. John Langdon Down.
3. The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increasingly risen from 25 to 59 since 1989.
4. Down syndrome happens before conception; so there is nothing a person did, or didn’t do, to cause it. It happens when the egg, or sperm, is produced with an extra copy of chromosome 21.
5. Taking prenatal vitamins will not prevent Down syndrome (but taking your prenatals as Folic acid is important!).
6. Down syndrome is caused by extra genetic material in chromosome 21. This can be due to a process called nondisjunction, in which genetic materials fail to separate during a crucial part of the formation of gametes, resulting in an extra chromosome (called trisomy 21). Down syndrome is not a disease.
7. There are 3 types of Down syndrome – the most common (about 95% of cases) is Trisomy which is a 3rd copy of the chromosome in every cell. Mosaicism (about 1-2%) happens when only some of the cells have the extra 3rd copy. Translocation (about 2-3%) happens when the long arm of chromosome 21 is attached to another chromosome.
8. There is a wide variation in mental abilities, behavior and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities and talents. Not everyone with Down syndrome is the same, just like individuals in the typical population are not all the same.
9. Down syndrome is not related to nationality, ethnicity, or religion.
10. Down syndrome occurs 1 out of every 800 live births in the United States.
11. According to the WHO, the estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide.
12. There are more than 400,000 people with Down Syndrome in the United States.
13. Each year approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with this chromosome disorder and it is believed there are about 250,000 families in the United States of America who are affected by Down Syndrome.
14. Most children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate impairments but it is important to note that they are more like other children than they are different.
15. Early Intervention services should be provided shortly after birth. These services should include physical, speech and developmental therapies. Most children attend their neighborhood schools, some in regular classes and others in special education classes. Some children have more significant needs and require a more specialized program.