Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in characteristic traits including low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, a single deep crease across the center of the palm, and mild to moderate cognitive delays. Down syndrome is caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21 and is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who fully described the syndrome in 1866. Children are born with Down syndrome throughout the world; in many cultures, however, pregnancies are terminated or children are institutionalized due to Down syndrome. For a more medical explanation of Down syndrome, click here.
One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome (about 6,000 annually), making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Today, approximately 400,000 Americans are living with Down syndrome.
Early intervention therapies and proper care have proven to be greatly beneficial for children with Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome are becoming increasingly integrated into society and community organizations, such as school, health care systems, work forces, and social and recreational activities.
Due to advances in medical technology, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. In 1910, children with Down syndrome were expected to survive to age nine. With the discovery of antibiotics, the average survival age increased to 19 or 20. Now, with recent advancements in clinical treatment, most particularly corrective heart surgeries, as many as 80% of adults with Down syndrome reach age 60, and many live even longer.
More and more Americans are interacting with individuals with Down syndrome, and global information flow is making more people aware of the plight of children with Down syndrome in other countries. These trends are increasing the need for widespread education about Down syndrome. For more information about parenting a child with Down syndrome, click here.
Here is a brochure you may download for your use: Caring for Children with Down syndrome