An Overview of Down Syndrome


On regular days, we don’t typically think of people who have down syndrome and how they live their lives. Well, today we will be talking about how someone gets Down syndrome and how someone lives with the challenges that come with the genetic disorder. Down syndrome is the the result of being born with an extra chromosome, 21 in total. Due to this, the person develops differently and this affects both their physical and cognitive development. People do not know the cause of Down syndrome , also known as trisomy 21, and there is no cure. The extra chromosome happens by chance, and they are not aware of the reason why.

Down syndrome is typically associated with physical growth delays, delays in cognitive growth, and certain distinguished facial features. The physical characteristics include things such as a small chin, slanted eyes, poor muscle tone, and a flat and wide face to name a few. Growth in height is slower so they tend to be shorter in height. Neurological conditions include developmental delays in childhood and as they develop into adults their mental abilities can be similar to the mental ability of around eight or nine year old kid.


Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the world. One out of every 691 babies born in the United States have this condition and over 400,000 currently live with this. Also, it states that nearly 25% of all families in the U.S.  “are affected,” by this condition. Although it is fairly common in the U.S., it actually receives the least amount of funding of all of the genetic conditions around the world. There are some foundations now trying to increase this awareness so that more money will go towards research for Down Syndrome.  

The National Down Syndrome Society  ties the age of an expectant mother to the level of risk of having a child with Down syndrome. They provide a chart which shows the risk level at each age of giving birth. As an expectant mother ages, so does her increase in having a baby with Down syndrome. For example, a woman giving birth at the age of 20,  has about a 1 in 2,000 chance of having a child with Down syndrome. The risk shows for a woman at age 30, is approximately 1 in 900 chance. As the mother ages, the risk increases dramatically. For example, for a 40 year old it is approximately 1 in 100, and for a 49 year old woman, it jumps to 1 in 10. However, the majority of babies born with this condition still are from the under 35 year old group, because there are more babies being born in this group.


The positive thing is that life expectancy for those with Down Syndrome has improved dramatically. For example in the 1900’s, those born with this condition were not expected to live past their tenth birthday. Now, over 80 percent of adults with Down Syndrome will reach their 50th birthday. Additionally , more individuals with Down Syndrome are completing high school, and more are going on to college as well.  And some colleges and universities have specially designed programs for these individuals. Last, these individuals are also more commonly holding down jobs and living more normal lives than in the past.


I hope you learned more about this condition and how it affects individual lives both as children and adults, as well as the life of their families, too. While, there is no cure, the quality of their lives have improved substantially over the years. This has led to a better quality of life for these individuals as they live with incurable genetic condition.

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