What is Down syndrome?
When abnormal cell division results in a partial or full copy of chromosome 21, the condition is called Down syndrome. It is a genetic disorder that happens before birth and causes developmental changes in a child’s physical and intellectual features.
Variations in physical features like short neck and flat face are observed, while intellectual disability varies from person to person.
It is most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children. It is a lifelong condition, but with proper care and support, children with Down syndrome have been seen to grow a happy, fruitful, and healthy life.
Normally, a person has 46 chromosomes. But in Down syndrome, abnormal cell division results in an extra partial or full copy of chromosome 21; which makes a total of 47 chromosomes in a person with Down syndrome. Having extra or abnormal chromosomes changes the way a person’s mind and body develop.
When is your unborn at the risk of having Down syndrome?
- When you have an immediate family member with Translocation Down syndrome (only this type of genetic variation might be passed on the next generation)
- When you had a baby with Down syndrome, the next one is equally at risk
- When you are 35 or older than 35 years of age when pregnant (because older eggs have a greater risk of improper chromosome division)
There are no known behavioral or environmental factors that cause Down syndrome.
Down syndrome can be caused by any of the three genetic variations:
- Trisomy 21
- Mosaic Down syndrome
- Translocation Down syndrome
Distinctive physical and intellectual features can be seen in children with Down syndrome, like:
- Flat face
- Short arms, legs, and neck
- Small ears and small mouth
- Slanting eyes
- Below average intelligence
They go through other defects in body, like:
- Respiratory infections
- Hearing loss
- Heart defects
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Sleep apnea
- Spinal problems
- Immune disorders
There is no sure way to prevent Down syndrome and no specific precautions you can take to prevent Down syndrome. If you detect a high risk of having a new born with this condition or if have a baby with Down syndrome, you can consult a genetic counsellor for some care tips. A genetic counsellor helps you to understand your chances of having a baby with Down syndrome. And can also explain the prenatal tests available and help explain the pros and cons of testing.
Care and support-
Professionals will aid your baby through life, but you are the vital element for your child’s happy, productive life. Here’s what you can do to support and understand them:
- Learn what you can- This will help you understand your child better
- Financial help from the government- There are many schemes that help PWD (person with disability) in financial and educational aspects
Look for the right school- As education is essential, look for the right public school where your child can be comfortable