When it comes to Down syndrome facts, the primary one that should be clarified first is that Down syndrome is not a disease, but a common condition in which a child is born with an extra chromosome 21. This is what triggers the symptoms of Down syndrome.
Normal children have 46 chromosomes, whereas children with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. Because of this extra chromosome, the child’s overall development is delayed. Although individuals with Down syndrome might have similar features, they differ from each other based on the severity of their condition.
Here are some useful Down syndrome facts that will help in shedding more light on the disease.
Ten Down Syndrome Facts You Should Know
Here are some basic Down syndrome facts that people should be aware of:
- Fact #1: Down syndrome is a common genetic condition, and it occurs in 1 out of every 800 live births worldwide.
- Fact #2: In the year 1887, Dr. John Langdon Down described the characteristic physical features associated with Down syndrome. However, it was Dr. Jerome Lejeune who identified that an extra chromosome 21 was the main causative factor, in the year 1959.
- Fact #3: The extra chromosome 21 is formed before conception, due to abnormal cell division during the formation of sperm or eggs cells.
- Fact #4: It has been established that as the age of a woman advances, the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases. About 9% of the overall live births each year concern old women (>35 years), and in 25% of these cases, the child is born with Down syndrome. However, about 80% of the children with Down syndrome are born to women below 35 years of age.
- Fact #5: Down syndrome can be classified into three types:
- Trisomy 21: In this condition, every cell in the body has 47 chromosomes, because of the extra chromosome 21. This constitutes about 95% of all the cases of Down syndrome.
- Mosaic Trisomy 21: In this case, some cells in the body have 46 chromosomes and some have 47 chromosomes. This covers about 1-2% of the total Down syndrome cases.
- Translocation: A part of chromosome 21 breaks off and attaches itself onto another chromosome. This covers about 2-3% of all the Down syndrome cases.
- Fact #6: Individuals with Down syndrome have low IQ, and face mild to moderate retardation. They can attend school like normal children, and some of them might be capable of living independently. However, individuals who are severely affected will need extra care and help in school.
- Fact #7: Although the intelligence level is below average, individuals with Down syndrome exhibit emotions like sadness, happiness, and anger just like normal people.
- Fact #8: Other birth defects associated with Down syndrome are heart defects, gastrointestinal tract abnormalities, hearing problems, vision problems, and thyroid abnormalities. Most conditions can be corrected surgically.
- Fact #9: The life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome has risen from 25 years (in 1983) to 50 years (in 2012).
- Fact #10: Although the genes that cause Down syndrome have been identified, no cure has been successfully developed. However, an animal model-based research has provided a basic understanding of the condition which could facilitate interventions and effective treatment options in the future.
Learning some basic Down syndrome facts can help people proactively screen and deal with the condition. This will also help them understand the causes behind Down syndrome.