What is Down syndrome?

Down Syndrome occurs when a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21 is present in a person. Having this additional genetic material causes developmental characteristics that have become knowingly associated with having Down Syndrome. The physical traits most commonly associated are low muscle tone, a small stature, eyes that slant upward, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. These traits are most common, but a person with Down Syndrome may possess all or none of these traits in a variety of degrees.

Down Syndrome affects 1 in 691 children in the United States which makes it the most common genetic condition in the country. With this statistic, and the number of births considered, approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome each year. There are three types of Down Syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction), translocation and mosaicism. Each type of Down Syndrome has its own unique characteristics and causes leaving parents with a variety of developmental challenges they will face with their child. Down Syndrome can often be diagnosed early, either prenatally or shortly after birth giving parents an early start on helping their child face their challenges.

Generally children who have Down Syndrome suffer from cognitive delays that offer a range of severities. Those who have mild delays are sometimes simply thought of as being a “little slow” and find themselves more easily integrated into society as they reach adulthood. Those who suffer from much more severe delays require more assistance and patience during their formative years.

Regardless of the severity of the Down Syndrome of a child, the marvelous advances in medicine along with the ability for children with Down Syndrome to enjoy their lives, these children are finding themselves more integrated in society than ever before. Many programs are available to families who have children with Down Syndrome including the use and benefits of the equipment and staff at We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym.

One note of interest is the amazing change in the life expectancy of a person with Down Syndrome. In 1910 the life expectancy was only age nine with an increase to twenty with the discovery of antibiotics. Today with many treatment options and surgeries to help correct heart issues many adults with Down Syndrome can live full and happy lives that reach as far as age sixty, a huge improvement over the short expectancy of only a century ago.