What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome awareness

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition where a person has an extra copy of chromosome. In simple words, a chromosome is genetic material found in the cell of a human being. The human body is made up of millions of cells. Each of these cells contains 46 chromosomes.  A person with Down syndrome is born with an extra copy of this genetic material. When a child is born, the child inherits 23 chromosomes from the father and 23 chromosomes from the mother, which means that the child is born with 46 chromosomes. A child with Down syndrome is born with one extra chromosome, that is; 47 chromosomes.

The extra chromosome now modifies the way the child’s brain and body develops. Down syndrome was first discovered and accurately described by Doctor John Langdon Down, and it occurs across all social and ethnic groups.

Causes of Down syndrome

Experts have not been able to determine the exact cause of Down Syndrome, but the risk of having a child with Down Syndrome are higher when;

  • A woman becomes pregnant at the age of 35 and higher.
  • When one has a brother or sister with Down syndrome or when one has already given birth to another child with Down syndrome.

 

Symptoms of Down syndrome

Most people with Down syndrome have common facial features. Children with Down syndrome will generally show the following characteristics or symptoms

  • They have flat faces and nostrils, short necks with more skin at the back of the neck.
  • Low muscle tone
  • They have small mouths, ears and head.
  • Their eyes slant upwards
  • They have intellectual impairments and learn slowly.
  • Many people with Down syndrome have speech impairment.

 

Most children with Down syndrome are born with other health complications like heart disease, intestinal and breathing complications. However, most of these conditions can be properly treated.

 

Precaution

  • It is advisable to contact a doctor for advice if you already have a child with Down syndrome and is planning to have another.

What to expect with Down syndrome

Parents who have a child with Down syndrome should be aware of the fact that they need to begin working on the child’s skills at an early age. Evidence show that the symptoms of Down syndrome can be significantly reduced as the child grows up if there is an early intervention.

Can a person with Down syndrome live a fruitful and successful life?

A person with Down syndrome can live a successful life. A person with Down syndrome can study, get a job, socialize and play an active role in the advancement of the community. The difference is that the person will take more time to achieve these goals. Early intervention is vital.

 

By

 

Nfon Mark Benyou (Markzin)

Crystal Foundation Staff.