Facts about Down syndrome (DS)
- History of Down syndrome:
It is almost certain that there have always been people with Down syndrome. However, the first person to recognise Down syndrome as an entity was Dr John Langdon Down (1828-1896) an English physician working in Surrey. The syndrome therefore bears his name.
- Down syndrome as a common cause of developmental disability worldwide:
Down syndrome occurs at the rate of around 1 in 700 to 1 in 900 live births worldwide. There are currently more than 2,000,000 people with Down syndrome worldwide.
- Down syndrome is the result of an additional chromosome 21:
What causes the presence of the additional chromosome at the time of conception is still unknown. Although the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with maternal age, babies with Down syndrome are born at the same rate into families from all social, economic and racial backgrounds, and to parents of all ages.
- Down syndrome causes intellectual disability and developmental delays:
These include increased risks of hearing and vision defects, heart abnormalities, infection, leukaemia, thyroid disorders, and of developing Alzheimer-type dementia in later life.
- Down syndrome is associated with a range of developmental difficulties:
These include delayed motor skills (such as sitting, crawling and walking in infancy) and delayed cognitive skills (such as speech and language acquisition and short-term memory abilities).
- Down syndrome varies in severity among individuals:
People with Down syndrome have a range of abilities and disabilities, characteristics, interests and achievements that vary widely, as with everyone. Down syndrome associates them, it does not define them.
- People with Down syndrome can live a life worth-living:
With access to informed and effective health care, individuals with Down syndrome can now expect to live to 50-60 years of age. With appropriate education, therapy, and social support, the majority of people with Down syndrome can lead independent and useful lives.