Identifying a person with Down Syndrome can be fairly easy in most of the cases. Be that as it may, the condition is still surrounded by a lot of misconceptions and unawareness.
A child being born with Down’s Syndrome is more common than you would imagine. There is one case of Down’s Syndrome in every 1000-1100 births worldwide. However, the severity of Down’s Syndrome varies with every person. The physical, developmental and intellectual problems that come with it may be mild, moderate or severe depending on that particular case. Naturally, the symptoms and their intensity may vary with the severity of the condition too.
Down Syndrome – What is it?
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder. This is a genetic condition where, due to abnormal cell division, an extra partial or full copy of chromosome 21 is created. This extra copy of chromosome 21 has an impact on the physical features and the development of the baby.
There are three types of Down’s Syndrome –
1. Translocation: The extra chromosome 21 that is supposed to be a copy, is translocated or attached to another chromosome.
2. Trisomy 21: Two copies of chromosome 21 do not separate during the sperm or egg formation. Due to this, the cells formed after fertilization have three instead of two copies of the chromosome.
There are no distinct cognitive differences between people with Translocation Down’s Syndrome and people with Trisomy 21.
3. Mosaic: Certain cells have three copies of chromosome 21 while other cells have two. People with Mosaic Down Syndrome showcase fewer characteristics that are normally associated with Down’s Syndrome.
Physical features that are typically related to Down Syndrome are flattened nose bridge, short neck, small head, upward slanting eyelids, protruding tongue, poor muscle tone, short height, small hands & feet, short & broad hands with a single crease in the palm, short fingers, and tiny white spots on the iris of the eye.
Infants born with Down Syndrome may look an average size, but their growth is usually slower and they remain shorter when compared to kids of the same age.
Down Syndrome usually results in mild to moderate levels of cognitive impairment, delayed language skills, and trouble with short-term & long-term memory.
There has been a significant increase in the average lifespan of people with Down Syndrome in the last few decades. The average lifespan of a person with Down Syndrome today is 60 years, which is much higher than it used to be in the 80s. This is on account of improved care and support for kids born with the disorder.
Down Syndrome – Cause Unknown
There is no medical explanation for the duplication of chromosome 21 yet. Researchers have not been able to establish any parental behaviour or environmental factor that could possibly cause Down Syndrome in babies.
This is the reason why there is no known way to prevent this condition.
You can talk to a medical consultant specialised in the field to get complete information about the available prenatal tests, and assess the risk of your baby being born with the condition.
More Genetic than Hereditary
Even though parents carry the genes of Translocation Down Syndrome, they do not have any symptoms for it. Studies suggest that only about one-third of the Translocation Down Syndrome cases are actually hereditary.
Increased chances in Second Child after First One Born with the Condition
If the mother carries a Translocation Down Syndrome gene, the chances of the second child having Down Syndrome are 10-15%. However, if it’s the father who carries the gene, the risk is at just about 3%.
Tips to Handle A Child with Down Syndrome
- Define expectations: Encourage your child with Down Syndrome to develop their abilities and skill-set to be able to lead an independent life or a life with little assistance. This is achievable with the right kind of care and medical attention.
- Set a routine: Children with Down Syndrome do well in routines, which is why it is advisable to have set time for their day-to-day tasks.
- Hand over control: It is important to give children with Down Syndrome a little independence and freedom to make their own choices in their day-to-day life. Let them feel entrusted without taking away their option of coming to you for help.
Raising a child with Down’s Syndrome sure is challenging, but it can be handled by educating yourself about the condition and finding the right medical consultant. A deeper understanding of the syndrome can make it easier for you to understand the needs of the child and help them cope.
Down Syndrome can be diagnosed after, and usually even before birth. It is important to speak to your doctor and stay updated with your prenatal scans to keep track of your child’s development and growth.
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