Individuals with Down syndrome tend to have a lower than average cognitive ability, often ranging from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. A small number have severe to profound mental disability.
About 1 in 800 – 1000 babies can suffer from Down Syndrome, although it is more common to happen with older mothers. Other factors may also play a role.
Down syndrome is often associated with some impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth, and a common set of facial and physical characteristics; such as:
- microgenia (an abnormally small chin),
- an unusually round face,
- macroglossia (protruding or over-sized tongue),
- an almond shape to the eyes caused by an epicanthic fold of the eyelid,
- upslanting palpebral fissures (the separation between the upper and lower eyelids), shorter limbs,
- a single transverse palmar crease (a single instead of a double crease across one or both palms, also called the Simian crease),
- poor muscle tone, and
- a larger than normal space between the big and second toes.
People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. However, many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
People with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses. Children with Down syndrome learn to sit, walk, talk, play, and do most other activities; only somewhat later than their peers without Down syndrome.
Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. People with Down syndrome attend school and work, and participate in decisions that concern them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
Incidentally, 21st March is marked as the World Down Syndrome Day.
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