Facts about Down syndrome

Brush up on your knowledge of Down syndrome with these quick facts.DSC03897

  1. Down syndrome is a genetic condition where a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material changes the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
  2. Down syndrome happens before conception. It happens when the egg or sperm is produced with an extra copy of chromosome 21.
  3. The exact cause of the extra chromosome that triggers Down syndrome is unknown.
  4. There are three different types of Down syndrome, trisomy 21 (95% of all cases), translocation (1% of all cases) and mosaic (4% of all cases).
  5. Common physical traits of Down syndrome are broad and flat faces, flattened nose bridges and slanting eyes.
  6. The incidence of Down syndrome in New Zealand is estimated to be 1 in every 1000 live births.
  7. The likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increases with maternal age, however, 80 percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age because this age group gives birth most frequently.
  8. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socio-economic status.
  9. Down syndrome is named after a doctor who first described the disease. His name was Dr. John Langdon Down.
  10. 30% – 50% of the individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8% – 12% have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth. Most of these defects are now correctable by surgery.
  11. Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care and positive public attitudes.
  12. In 1983, the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was a mere 25-years-old. Today, it is 60.
  13. Since the 1970s, public schools are required by law to provide a free and appropriate education to children with Down syndrome.
  14. There is a wide variation in mental abilities, behaviour and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities and talents. In other words, people with Down syndrome are not all the same; just like individuals in the typical population are not all the same.
  15. While behaviour, mental ability, and physical development varies from person to person, many individuals with Down syndrome grow up to hold jobs, live independently, and enjoy normal recreational activities.