Down's Syndrome

Down’s Syndrome is one of the most common genetic disorders with a wide range of symptoms and related health issues. While it is a life long condition, advances in research and knowledge mean that people with Down’s now have the opportunity to lead longer, more fulfilling and semi-independent lives.

Down’s Syndrome is a disorder in which extra genetic material causes mental and physical delays in the way the child develops. Usually, children born with Down’s have both learning difficulties as well as characteristic physical features.

What causes Down’s and who is affected?

Nobody knows why Down’s Syndrome occurs and there doesn’t seem to be any way of preventing the chromosomal error that causes it. Women aged 35 and over have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with the condition. At age 30 for instance, a woman has a 1 in 1,000 chance of conceiving a child with Down’s.  The odds have changed to 1 in 400 by the time she is 35 and 1 in 100 by the time she is 40.

The condition affects all ethnic groups equally, while a baby born with Down’s Syndrome is a bit more likely to be a boy rather than a girl.

What are Down’s Syndrome Symptoms and characteristics?

These vary so that some children will need a lot of medical attention while others lead healthy lives. The good news is that the health issues connected to Down’s can be treated and there are many resources available to help those living with the condition and their families. Typical Down's Syndrome Symptoms include heart defects, cataracts, hearing and sight problems and a reduced ability to fight infections. There can also be gut problems which can make eating difficult. Later in life, there is sometimes a greater risk of leukemia and Alzheimer’s.

People with Down’s often look different. They are shorter than average with weaker muscle tone and may have short, broad hands. A flat facial profile and eyes that slant upwards are other characteristics. Ears are usually smaller and the back of the head is flat.  People with Down’s Syndrome have a range of learning disabilities that span moderate to severe, and disorders on the autistic spectrum are also more likely.

Down’s Syndrome treatments may include physiotherapy, speech therapy and special educational programmes. Some with the condition will require full time care, while Down's Syndrome treatments offer a substantially improved quality of life.

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