One in eight hundred overall births result in a baby being born with Down syndrome. The most common risk factor for Down syndrome is the age of the mother. The risk of having a baby born with Down syndrome increases with each year a woman ages. Since, however, younger women tend to have more babies, 80 percent of Down syndrome babies are born to women who are younger than 35 years old.
Diagnostic testing for Down syndrome includes amniocentesis, chorionic villis sampling, and percutaneous umbilical cord sampling. There is no cure for Down syndrome, and since every Down syndrome birth is unique, treatment varies widely based on symptoms.
What is Down Syndrome?
It is a genetic disorder that occurs in approximately 1 out of every 800 live births. It is the leading cause in both Canada and the U.S. of cognitive impairment. Down syndrome can be associated with:
- Mild to moderate learning disabilities
- Developmental delays
- Characteristic facial features
- Low muscle tome in early infancy
- Heart defects
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Gastro-intestinal problems
- A variety of other health issues
Down syndrome was named after the doctor who first described the syndrome as a disorder in 1866. Although he made some important observations about the disorder, he did not correctly identify its cause. It wasn’t correctly identified as a genetic disorder until 1959.
Life expectancy for persons with Down syndrome has increased dramatically over the past few decades, as medical care and social inclusion have improved. A person in good health with Down syndrome can now be expected to live an average of 55 years.
Facts about Down Syndrome:
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. It is characterized by the development of an extra chromosome. Normally, each human carries 23 pairs of different chromosomes. At conception, the individual inherits 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father. However, occasionally a person inherits an extra chromosome from one of the parents, and that results in Down syndrome.
There is no known way to prevent Down syndrome. However, infants and children with Down syndrome can benefit from special programs that can include:
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Exercises for physical coordination
- Extra attention at school and at home
Assistance and Treatment:
- Your family physician can diagnose Down syndrome and treat any physical problems or symptoms that accompany it.
- The Down Syndrome Association offers resources for patients and their families.
- Trained therapists can assist with development of physical, mental, and social skills.
Child Disability Tax Credit of Canada can assist the family with extra expenses that may incur while caring for a member with Down syndrome. (Read our extensive guide to learn more). If you have a child who is born with Down syndrome don’t hesitate to ask for help. There is a multitude of agencies of people who are highly trained to assist care providers in getting a child with Down syndrome all the care they need.
For more information: Down Syndrome Research Foundation