Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Chromosomes are small packages of genes in our body. They determine how a baby’s body forms during pregnancy and how the baby’s body functions as it grows in the womb and after birth.
“Typically, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes. Babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21.” “This extra copy changes how the baby’s body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges for the baby,” the CDC points out.
The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the ministry, this week’s focus is on Down syndrome and is part of CPSs public awareness initiative about relevant health matters.
CPS recommends that pregnant women consult their family physician to ensure timely prenatal screening; and if you know someone with Down syndrome, to contact your physician who can provide information so you in turn can provide informed support for necessary quality care.
Even though Down syndrome is a lifelong condition, each person with Down syndrome has different talents and the ability to thrive.
Interventions early in life will often help babies and children with Down syndrome to improve their physical and intellectual abilities. Interventions include speech, occupational, and physical therapy, and focus on helping children with Down syndrome develop to their full potential.
Children with Down syndrome may also need extra help or attention in school, although many children are included in regular classes in school systems around the globe.
There is also a growing number of people with Down syndrome participating in college programs, choosing to get married, and living independently or semi-independently in countries around the world.
“Even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities. People with Down syndrome usually have an IQ (a measure of intelligence) in the mildly-to-moderately low range and are slower to speak than other children.
“Some common physical features of Down syndrome include: A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose; Almond-shaped eyes that slant up; A short neck; Small ears; A tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth; Tiny white spots on the iris (colored part) of the eye; Small hands and feet; A single line across the palm of the hand (palmar crease); Small pinky fingers that sometimes curve toward the thumb; Poor muscle tone or loose joints; and shorter in height as children and adults,” according to the CDC.