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Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which the majorities (approximately 90%) of individuals have an extra 21st chromosome. It occurs when this chromosome is fully or partially copied. This alters the course of fetal development and causes characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

Let’s review some common myths and FAQs about on syndrome

  • Down syndrome is a genetic condition but it isn’t hereditary:

Three types or variants of Down syndrome exist: Trisomy 21, mosaicism and translocation. Trisomy 21 is the most common accounting for 95 per cent of cases. Neither trisomy 21 nor mosaicism is inherited from a parent as they are random results of the cell division process. But one-third of translocation cases are hereditary, accounting for about 1 per cent of Down syndrome cases.

  • Children/ People with Down syndrome have a severe and intellectual disability:

Most children and people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays and sometimes intellectual disability ranging from mild to moderate. But this does not hinder full participation in educational and recreational activities or programs.

  • Children/ People with Down syndrome will be dependent all their lives:

Children with Down syndrome can be independent even as adults; they can attend school, work, participate in taking decisions and contribute to society.

  • What predisposes a child to Down syndrome?

The incidence of a child being born with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to the increase in fertility rate in younger mothers, it has been discovered that 80% of children born with Down syndrome are born to mothers under the age of 35.

  • Can Down syndrome be cured?

Research on Down syndrome is making large strides in identifying the genes on chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics of the syndrome. Scientists feel strongly that the possibility of improving, correcting and even preventing problems associated with Down syndrome will be possible in the nearest future.

  • Will my next child have Down syndrome?

After having a child with Down syndrome, the risk of having a second child with the condition is about 1 in 100 i.e., till the mother reaches the age of 40. The risk of having a second child with the translocation type of Down syndrome is about 10 to 15 per cent if the mother carries the gene and about 3 per cent if the father is the carrier.

  • Do people with Down syndrome look the same?

Although there are a few physical features common to people with Down syndrome; small stature, and an upward slant of the nose and a single deep crease on the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is unique and possesses unique qualities.

  • Should children with Down syndrome be homeschooled?

Having Down syndrome should not affect your child from receiving a quality education. There are special schools that exist to help care for and teach children with special needs.

It is important to note that early intervention is important for children diagnosed with either cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. Treatment and teaching life skills go a long way to improve a child’s quality of life especially as they grow into adulthood.

Treatment or management programs include but are not limited to physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, life skills classes and educational opportunities.