What is Down’s Syndrome?
Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in the baby’s cells. Chromosomes are tiny particles, which are present in every cell in every tissue of our bodies. Most people have 2 copies of all chromosomes, but people with Down’s syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21, hence the medical name ‘trisomy 21’.
This extra chromosome results in some level of learning disability and a range of physical characteristics. The learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn compared with others; it does not mean they cannot learn.
People with Down’s syndrome are born in every country in the world to parents of all races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Having a child with Down’s syndrome can happen to anyone. Nothing done before or during pregnancy causes the condition.
The most important thing about Down’s syndrome is that everyone with the condition is a unique individual. Children with Down’s syndrome generally take longer to reach developmental milestones and they will need some additional support in the form of early intervention services as well as extra help when they go to school. The way the syndrome effects a person’s development, learning and health varies widely. The level of support that a person with Down’s syndrome needs as they grow up and throughout their lives will be different from person to person.
Ten facts about Down’s Syndrome
- Around one in every 1000 babies born in the UK will have Down’s syndrome.
- There are approximately 40,000 people in the UK with the condition.
- People with Down’s syndrome are all unique individuals with their own personalities, family backgrounds and preferences that make them who they are.
- Although the chance of a baby having Down’s syndrome is higher for older mothers, more babies with Down’s syndrome are born to younger women.
- Down’s syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells. Down’s syndrome usually occurs because of a chance happening at the time of conception.
- Down’s syndrome occurs in all races, religious and economic situations.
- Down’s syndrome is not a disease. People with Down’s syndrome are not ill and do not “suffer” from the condition.
- People with the syndrome will have a learning disability. The learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn, it does not mean they cannot learn.
- Like most of the population, people with Down’s syndrome learn at school, have interests, hobbies and talents, have friends and relationships.
- Today the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s syndrome is between 50 and 60 with a number of people living into their seventies