Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome (DS) is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 in the body’s cells, it is not a disease. In the majority of cases DS is not an inherited condition. DS usually occurs because of a chance happening at the time of conception

Some Facts:

  • Down Syndrome was identified and described in 1866 by the British doctor John Langdon Down
  • Down Syndrome used to be called “Mongoloid idiocy”
  • This term was abandoned in 1965 at the request of the Mongolian People’s Republic.
  • Although the chance of a baby having Down Syndrome is higher for older mothers, more babies with Down syndrome are born to younger women.
  • Down syndrome is not a disease. People with DS are not ill and do not “suffer” from the condition
  • Today average life expectancy for a person with DS is between 50 – 60.
  • Down Syndrome affects people of all races and economic levels

Main Characteristics:

  • Intellectual Impairment (99%)
  • Stunted growth (90%)
  • Large tongue (75%)
  • Smaller mouth cavity
  • Separation of first and second toe (68%)
  • Tendency for obesity after puberty (90%)
  • Slanted eyes (60%)

People with Down syndrome are not all the same. People with Down syndrome have more in common with their families than with each other. Just like the rest of the population, they will inherit family characteristics. Everyone with Down’s syndrome will have some degree of learning disability. The learning disability affects a child’s ability to learn compared with other children of their age, it does not mean they cannot learn. But the most important thing to remember is that everyone with Down syndrome is a unique individual.

Achieving Potential

Children raised at home and included in all aspects of community life can best reach their potential and function in society with a greater degree of independence.

Parental love, nurturing and support, as well as early intervention programmes, education opportunities and community involvement, have a direct influence on the degree to which a person with Down syndrome is able to achieve his / her potential.

Health issues

  • Heart defects occur in around 47% of individuals with Down syndrome and 10 to 15% of babies with Down syndrome have a severe heart defect that requires surgical intervention during the first few months of life.
  • Respiratory infections are more common among people with Down syndrome, especially during the first five years of life. Infections of the skin and the bladder also tend to be common.
  • Children with Down syndrome have a 10 to 20 fold increased risk of developing leukaemia
  • Up to 80% of children with Down syndrome experience hearing loss, sometimes severe. Even mild hearing loss will lead to difficulties in speech and language development.
  • People with Down syndrome are more likely to experience vision disorders such as long & short sightedness.
  • 95% of people with DS have an imbalance of body fluids resulting in a reduction in saliva production, dry skin and dehydration
  • Neck defect, Atlanto axial instability, weakness disorder of the neck.
  • Hypermobility – this causes the joint and muscles to over extend