What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that happens when a child is born with an extra chromosome. The extra chromosome affects the way the child’s brain and body develop, leading to developmental delays, intellectual disability, and an increased risk for certain medical issues. Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, affecting approximately 1 in every 700 children. It is named for John Langdon Down, the British physician who first recognized the traits of Down syndrome in 1866.
Signs and symptoms
People with Down syndrome are significantly predisposed to certain medical conditions including congenital heart defects, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer’s disease. There is also evidence of an increased risk of celiac disease, autism, childhood leukemia and seizures.
Children with Down syndrome
Most children with Down syndrome meet developmental milestones later than other children, including the ability to walk and talk. They often have mild to moderate intellectual disability and may have specific challenges with attention span, verbal memory, and expressive communication.
Behavioral problems such as stubbornness, impulsivity, and temper tantrums may be more common in children with Down syndrome. Many children talk out loud to themselves as a way of understanding and processing information.
On the other hand, many children with Down syndrome have strong social skills. Even as infants, many use non-verbal communication to connect with others. They are often strong visual learners, understanding information best when they can see it, either through pictures, objects, or demonstration. Many children with Down syndrome learn to read words sooner than their parents or teachers expect.
Diagnosis of Down syndrome
Down syndrome can be detected during pregnancy through prenatal tests or diagnosed after birth with a chromosomal analysis.