Welcome to our Down Syndrome Page.
Below you will find information about Down Syndrome and links to more information sources....
|Down Syndrome General Info
For centuries, people with Down syndrome have been alluded to in art, literature, and science. It wasn't until
the late 19th century, however, that John Langdon Down, an English physician, published an accurate description of a person
with Down syndrome. It was this scholarly work, published in 1866, which earned Down the recognition as the "father" of the
syndrome. Although others had previously recognized the characteristics of the syndrome, it was Down who described the condition
as a distinct and separate entity.
Throughout the 20th century, advances in medicine and science enabled researchers to investigate the characteristics
of people with Down syndrome. In 1959, the French physician, Jerome Lejeune, identified Down syndrome as a chromosomal anomaly
when he observed 47 chromosomes present in each cell of individuals with Down syndrome instead of the usual 46. It was later
determined that an extra partial or complete 21st chromosome results in the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome occurs in one out of every 733 live births, and more than 400,000 people in the U.S. have this
genetic condition. One of the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormalities, Down syndrome affects people of all ages,
races and economic levels. Today, individuals with Down syndrome are active participants in the educational, vocational, social
and recreational aspects of our communities. In fact, there are more opportunities than ever before for individuals with Down
syndrome to develop their abilities, discover their talents and realize their dreams. For example, more teens and adults with
Down syndrome each year are graduating from high school, going to college, finding employment and living independently.
The opportunities currently available to individuals with Down syndrome have never been greater. However,
it is only through the collective efforts of parents, professionals, and concerned citizens that acceptance is becoming even
more widespread. It is the mission of the National Down Syndrome Society to ensure that all people with Down syndrome are
provided the opportunity to achieve their full potential in all aspects of their lives.
Down Syndrome Fact Sheet
- Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies
of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development
and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
- Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 733 babies is born with
- There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
- Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
- The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher
fertility rates in younger women, 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
- People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart
defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these
conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
- A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant
to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual
and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
- Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983
to 60 today.
- People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute
to society in many wonderful ways.
- All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and
is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
- Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from
family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
- Researchers are making great strides in identifying the genes on Chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics
of Down syndrome. Many feel strongly that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated
with Down syndrome in the future.
What Causes Down Syndrome
The human body is made of cells. All cells contain a center,
called a nucleus, in which genes are stored. Genes, which carry the codes responsible for all our inherited characteristics,
are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Normally, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes,
half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person's cells have an extra full
or partial copy of chromosome 21.
The most common form of Down syndrome is known as Trisomy 21. Individuals with Trisomy 21
have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46 in each of their cells. The condition results from an error in cell division called
nondisjunction. Prior to or at conception, a pair of 21st chromosomes in either the sperm or the egg fails to separate. As
the embryo develops, the extra chromosome is replicated in every cell of the body. This error in cell division is responsible
for 95 percent of all cases of Down syndrome.
Down syndrome also encompasses two other genetic conditions: mosaicism and
translocation. Mosaicism occurs when nondisjunction of chromosome 21 takes place
in one of the initial cell divisions after fertilization causing a person to have 46 chromosomes in some of their cells and
47 in others. The least common form of Down syndrome, mosaicism, accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of all cases. Translocation,
which accounts for 3 to 4 percent of cases of Down syndrome, occurs when part of chromosome 21 breaks off during cell division
and attaches to another chromosome, usually chromosome 14. While the total number of chromosomes in the cells remains 46,
the presence of an extra part of chromosome 21 causes the characteristics of Down syndrome.
The cause of the extra full or partial chromosome is still unknown. What we do know that it is not caused by environmental
factors or anything the mother does before or during her pregnancy. Maternal age is the only factor that has been linked to
an increased chance of having a baby with Down syndrome resulting from nondisjunction. A 35-year-old woman has a one in 353
chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome. By age 40, the incidence has increased to one in 85. However, because younger
women have higher fertility rates, more babies with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35. Once a woman has
given birth to a baby with Down syndrome, the chance of having a second child with Down syndrome might be increased by an
additional 1 percent.
Maternal age, however, is not linked to the chance of having a baby with translocation. Most cases are sporadic, chance
events, but in about one third of translocation cases, one parent is a carrier of a translocated chromosome. For this reason,
the chance of translocation in a second pregnancy is higher than that seen in nondisjunction.
For more information go to the National Down Syndrome Society
National Down Syndrome Society: Information and Resources