What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a child is born with an extra full or partial copy of the 21st chromosome.
What causes Down syndrome?
We do not know why Down syndrome occurs, but we do know it is caused by abnormal cell division. At conception, a child typically inherits 46 chromosomes - 23 chromosomes from each parent. In Down syndrome, a child is born with 47 chromosomes due to abnormal cell division. Down syndrome cannot be prevented or cured. One in every 700 babies born in the United States has Down syndrome, or about 6,000 each year, according to the CDC.
Why is it called “Down syndrome?”
Down syndrome was named for the English physician, John Langdon Down, who first published an accurate description of characteristics of the condition in 1866. Some countries refer to the condition as Down’s syndrome, but in the US that would denote Dr. Down as having had the condition, so we refer to it as Down syndrome.
What is more important is the use of people-first language. Individuals with Down syndrome are people first. They are not “downs,” “downs kids,” or “downs people.” They are simply people who happen to have Down syndrome.
What are the effects of Down syndrome?
Individuals with Down syndrome are all unique but do share some characteristics such as decreased muscle tone, congenital heart defects, beautiful almond shaped eyes with Brushfield spots, a single palmar crease, and a sandal gap which is a deep grove between their first and second toes. Babies and children with Down syndrome may take a bit longer to reach milestones, but it makes the celebration of their achievements a little bit sweeter. Along with that extra chromosome also comes a lot of extra love and awesomeness!