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Down Syndrome By Stephanie Addison

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Down syndrome is a trait that occurs from troubles with genetic information in an unborn child. This lifelong condition causes delays in the way which a child develops, mentally and physically. Children with Down syndrome take on similar physical characteristics, such as a flattened face, an upward slant in the eyes and smaller ears. Mentally, Down syndrome affects the ability to learn as well as affecting their intellectual ability. Although these mental and physical characteristics make life more challenging for parents and the child, most children with Down syndrome grow to live healthy, happy lives.

Down syndrome is caused by an abnormal amount of chromosomes. Normally, during the growth of a fetus 23 chromosomes are received from the mother and 23 from the father; totaling 46. However, in children with Down syndrome they receive an extra chromosome that totals 47. This extra genetic material is what causes the abnormal physical and mental characteristics shown in children with Down syndrome. The risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases with a mother’s age. According to women age 35 and above have a significantly higher risk of conceiving a child with the disorder, about 1 in 900 births. By age 40, the risk rises to 1 in 100 births (1).

There is no explanation why this chromosomal defect occurs, which unfortunately makes the disorder impossible to prevent. There are however, tests that can be performed during pregnancy to help detect whether an unborn fetus has Down syndrome. Parents with a child diagnosed with Down syndrome face many challenges. However, gaining knowledge of the disorder and talking with other parents who face the same challenges helps to alleviate some of the fear.



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