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Down Syndrome

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation and malformation in a newborn. Down syndrome occurs because of the presence of an extra 21st chromosome.

Chromosomes are the materials that store people's genetic information. Each person inherits 23 chromosomes from their mother and twenty three chromosomes from their father. Sometimes an accident occurs and one of the parents gives an extra chromosome. When the extra chromosome happens to be chromosome number 21, Down Syndrome occurs.

Down Syndrome is not contagious.

Down syndrome is also called trisomy 21.

Symptoms of Down Syndrome

Individuals with Down Syndrome may not experience all of the symptoms. Some of the common symptoms are: decreased muscle tone at birth, asymmetrical or odd-shaped skull, round head with flat area at the back of the head, small skull, slanting eyes, small mouth with protruding tongue (see tongue problems), broad short hands, single crease on the palm, retarded growth and development, delayed mental and social skills (mental retardation)

What are the physical Characteristics of Down Syndrome?

Children with Down syndrome have a widely recognized characteristic appearance. Their head may be smaller than normal and abnormally shaped. Other prominent characteristics of Down syndrome are: a flattened nose, protruding tongue, upward slanting eyes, short hands and fingers, and a single crease in the palm.

Can Down Syndrome be Prevented?

Unfortunately, Down syndrome cannot be prevented.

Can Down Syndrome be Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Down syndrome. However, treatment is available for the health problems that the person might have. Special education and training is offered in most communities for mentally handicapped children.

Medical Consequences of Down Syndrome

There are many medical consequences related to Down syndrome. Some of the consequences are: inability to reach normal growth and development; Congenital heart defects in infants, early mortality; acute lymphocytic leukemia, and gastrointestinal abnormalities. A person with Down syndrome may have an obstruction of the esophagus and obstruction of the duodenum.

Another medical consequence of Down syndrome is a faster aging process. There is also a tendency to develop diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer's, at a relatively early age.

Tips on how to deal with a child who has Down syndrome.

Down Syndrome Statistics

  • Down syndrome occurs in roughly 1 of every 750 births in the United States.
  • The risk of having a child with Down syndrome is less than 1 in 2,500 among young women.
  • The risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases to roughly 1 in 350 when women reach 35 years of age.
  • After age 45, the risk of having a child with Down Syndrome is about 1 in 25.

Down Syndrome Support Groups

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