Down’s Sydnrome - The Basics Down's Syndrome – the Basics Down's Syndrome is one of the most common genetic birth defects.  Every year in the U.S.A. alone 1 in every 800-1,000 births result in it.  The older the expectant mother the higher the risk.  The most common form of Down's Syndrome is also called “trisomy 21” because the children are born with three copies of the 21st chromosome.  The genetic makeup that determines our inherited characteristics are made up of 23 chromosomes...half of each pair come from each parent.  Although it does appear related to the age of the mother, no one actually know why this abnormality exists. a Down's Syndrome children are born with a characteristic physical appearance which makes it commonly visible.  It is also the leading cause of cognitive impairment.  Life expectancy has improved over the past few years and children born with it can live to the age of 55 and sometimes beyond.  Dr. Langdon Down was the first physician to diagnose this syndrome as a disorder in 1866.   However, he didn't correctly identify the cause.  It wasn't until 1959 that scientists discovered the genetic origin.  Down Syndrome is associated with mild to moderate learning disabilities, characteristic facial features, developmental delays, and during early infancy, low muscle tone.  It also is common to be born with heart defects, gastrointestinal disorders, develop leukemia, dementia and early onset Alzheimer's disease.  Early detection during pregnancy can be done by a simple test...amniocentesis.  Amniocentesis is where a sample of the amniotic fluid is taken and tested.  This fluid contains  fetal cells and urine which can be tested to determine the risk and possibility of Down's Syndrome. A safe and supportive environment is key to raising a Down's child.  Like all children they need to experience things like preschool, family and community activities.  This will help them grow and develop to their full potential. Motor skills, language and speech are typically delayed.  Unfortunately the Down Syndrome child is prone to hearing and vision impairments and common illnesses which can lead to their delay in social and academic development.  Regular health checkups are essential to stave off obesity, ear infections, diabetes II, and screen for hearing and visual abnormalities. It's very important to stimulate, educate and encourage the Down's Syndrome child from an early age.  There are programs and therapies for young children to aid in bringing them to their full potential.  The enduring characteristics of a child with Down's is their joy and vitality for life. 
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