ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME
PDF Print E-mail

Commonly Asked Questions About Down Syndrome


What is Down syndrome?

People with Down syndrome are human beings with recognizable physical traits and limited intellectual endowment due to the presence of an extra chromosome 21.

Click here to read the Creed of Babies with Down Syndrome.


Who does Down syndrome affect?


One in 1,000 babies is born with Down syndrome. Approximately 4,000 children are born with Down syndrome each year. Over 250,000 families in the United States are affected by this chromosome disorder.


How does Down syndrome affect a child's development?

Children with Down syndrome are usually smaller and their physical and mental development is usually slower. Their mental capacity ranges from no mental retardation to severely mentally retarded. Most children fall in the mild to moderate range of retardation. (The term "retardation" simply means slower, although it typically has such a negative conotation.) A caring and enriching home environment, early intervention, and integrated education efforts are shown to have a dramatic positive effect on a child with Down syndromes development.


What causes Down syndrome?

There are many theories on what causes Down syndrome. However, none of these theories have been proven. They include: hormonal abnormalities, X-rays, viral infections, immunology problems, or genetic predisposition, which may be the cause of the improper cell division resulting in Down syndrome. The physical features observed in children with Down syndrome usually do not cause any disability in the child.


What health problems result from Down syndrome?

60-80% of children with Down syndrome have hearing deficits
40-45% have congenital heart disease
Intestinal abnormalities and eye problems occur at a higher frequency in children with Down syndrome
Nutritional concerns are a factor for those with Down syndrome
Thyroid dysfunction is more common in children with Down syndrome
A higher frequency of skeletal problems has been discovered in individuals with Down syndrome

Advances in molecular biology make it possible to examine the genetic basis for Down syndrome. Once we identify the genes on chromosome 21 and how they interfere with normal development, we might be able to counteract their effects.


What educational and vocational opportunities are available for those with Down syndrome?

Early intervention programs, pre-school nurseries and integrated special education programs have been proven effective in the development of those with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome can benefit from an expanding environment. School can teach a child with Down syndrome the necessary academic, physical and social skills to lead a productive life within the community, instead of excluded from it. Prevocational training is also important, so that those with Down syndrome can learn important job training which will lead to meaningful employment.