Down Syndrome is sometimes referred to as Down’s syndrome or trisomy 21. The condition occurs when a child is born with an additional copy of the 21st chromosome. This occurrence causes mental and physical developmental disabilities and delays in a child. Disabilities are mostly life-long and can sometimes reduce life expectancy.
However, with recent advances in the medical field coupled with institutional and cultural support, people with the condition can live fulfilling and healthy lives. Down syndrome ranks the most prevalent genetic disorder in the USA, with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) estimating 1 in 700 kids born has Down syndrome.
During reproduction, babies get their genes from their parents. The genes are contained in chromosomes. Each of the baby’s cells should receive 23 chromosome pairs, with half of them being from the father and the other half from the mother.
In the case of Down syndrome, one chromosome does not separate as it should. The baby, therefore, gets one more chromosome 21 copy. This additional chromosome results in complications as physical features and the brain develop.
There are several types of Down Syndrome. They include Trisomy 21, Mosaicism, and translocation. Trisomy 21 occurs the most compared to the other two types. In Mosaicism, extra chromosomes are only present in a few cells. This, therefore, means people with the disorder have fewer symptoms. In translocation, only one chromosome has an additional chromosome 21.
Research shows mothers with 35 years and above have a higher probability of giving birth to a baby with the condition. The probability rises as age increases. In a study conducted in 2003, fathers whose age was over 40 were more likely to have a baby with the condition. Family history and carrying a genetic translocation are also other predisposing factors to Down syndrome.
Although screening can sometimes reveal, signs of carrying a baby with Down syndrome cannot be experienced during pregnancy. Signs of Down syndrome that can be noticed during birth include small ears and head, flat face, a short neck, a bulging tongue, poor muscle tone, and eyes with an upward slant.
An infant with the condition will also develop slower than a child without it. Social and mental development delays may cause poor judgment and impulsive behavior by a child. Slow learning can also be attributed to slow social and mental development delays.
Down syndrome can be accompanied by other medical complications such as obesity, leukemia, hearing loss, cataracts, hip problems, heart defects, constipation, memory problems, hypothyroidism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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