What is Down Syndrome?

what is down syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition found in humans that results in intellectual and physical development delays.

The History of Down Syndrome

Though there is anecdotal evidence throughout history in art and in historical accounts of humans with Down Syndrome, the condition wasn’t formally described until the 1860s. A British physician by the name of John Langdon Down first characterized the condition in a clinical sense, hence the name Down syndrome.

What Causes Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is caused by an error in cell division known as “nondisjunction”, which leads to having an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Currently, there is no evidence pointing to what causes this to occur.

Treatments for Down Syndrome

There is no treatment for Down Syndrome as it is a lifelong condition. There are numerous ways to help those with Down syndrome lead long and fulfilling lives though. Speech therapy, along with physical and occupational therapy from a young age can help significantly improve physical and intellectual abilities. With therapy and structure, people with Down syndrome are often able to lead independent or semi-independent adult lives.

Down Syndrome Facts

  • Down syndrome occurs in 1 in 700 babies born in the US (6,000 babies born each year with it)
  • 250,000 Americans live with Down syndrome
  • The average life expectancy in 1910 of a person with Down syndrome was 9 years old
  • The average life expectancy now of a person born with Down syndrome is 55 years
  • Down syndrome is the least funded major genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health
  • Only 1% of cases of Down syndrome are considered to be hereditary (passed from parent to child through genes)
  • 50% of babies born with Down syndrome will also have heart defects present at birth
  • The risk for having a child with Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age (data via NDSS):
down syndrome rate by mothers age

Down Syndrome Video Stories

Learn more about Down Syndrome by watching “Just Like You – Down Syndrome”

Down Syndrome Information Sources