What you should know?

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder which results in a set of physical and mental traits in the individual. The severity of this disorder varies among individuals and the issues in intellectual and physical development may be mild, moderate or severe. You can read more about Down syndrome here.

What is Down syndrome?

The World Health Organisation defines Down syndrome as a type of mental retardation caused by an extra genetic material in chromosome 21. It is a lifelong condition characterized by features like flat face, short neck, low intelligence etc. In most cases, tests and screening during pregnancy help in detecting Down syndrome in the baby.

How does Down syndrome occur?

There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in a human cell equalling to 46 chromosomes in total. In people with Down syndrome, abnormal cell division occur leading to an extra partial or full chromosome 21. In 95% of the people diagnosed with this condition, chromosome 21 will have three copies in all the cells. The third copy is named as Trisomy 21 and the condition is also known by the same name.

The other variations of Down syndrome are Mosaic Down syndrome and Translocation Down syndrome. Mosaic Down syndrome is a very rare condition in which some cells of the person will have an extra copy. In Translocation Down syndrome, a portion of the chromosome 21 gets attached to another.

What are the  symptoms of Down syndrome?

The symptoms of Down syndrome differ in people depending on the severity of the condition. Some may lead a healthy life while others may experience severe health issues throughout  life. The common symptoms of Down syndrome include:

  • Abnormal facial features like flattened face, unusually shaped ears, small head, slanting eyelids, protruding tongue etc.
  • Short arms and legs
  • Shorter arms’ and legs’ fingers
  • Intellectual disabilities like cognitive impairment, delayed speech, memory problems, etc.

What are the factors that increase the risk of Down syndrome?

There are no environmental or lifestyle factors that increase the risk of Down syndrome. It is not an inherited condition. However, the following factors may increase the risk of causing Down syndrome in the baby.

  • Pregnancy after 35 years in women
  • Genetic translocation for Down syndrome from mother or father
  • History of having a child with this disorder

What are the complications?

A baby born with Down syndrome is at a higher risk of developing other health complications later in life. It includes obesity, leukaemia, spinal problems, dementia, heart-related diseases etc.

World Down Syndrome day

Every year, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on March 21st.  This year marks the 13th anniversary of WDSD which was started with a goal to spread global awareness about the condition. According to United Nations, adequate access to health care, early intervention programs, inclusive education, and appropriate research are vital to the growth and development of an individual diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Children diagnosed with Down syndrome can lead healthier and happier lives with proper care and support.


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