What is Down Syndrome?
Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
How common is Down Syndrome?
One in every 691 babies in the the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year.
What can a child with Down Syndrome do?
Children with Down syndrome usually can do most things that any young child can do, such as walking, talking, dressing and being toilet-trained. However, they generally start learning these things later than unaffected children.
The exact age that these developmental milestones are achieved cannot be predicted. However, early intervention programs beginning in infancy can help these children achieve their developmental milestones sooner.