21st March is observed as World Down Syndrome Day annually all across the globe. The day marks the importance of raising awareness about the genetic disorder, Down syndrome, among the public. The General Assembly summons all organizations and the Member States of the United Nations, as well as NGOs to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day in a proper manner.
The prevailing low expectations, negative attitudes, exclusion and discrimination ensure that those born with Down syndrome fall behind and lack opportunities to take part fully in decision making about all matters in life. This happens in society, as also within the Down syndrome community and disability community.
At the root of this exclusion and discrimination is a lack of knowledge of the challenges people face throughout their lifetimes and the failure to back them with the tools and opportunities required to participate in a meaningful way.
As we strive to make people at large wary of Down syndrome, let us know some more about the disorder.
What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome occurs when a child is born with an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This is a genetic condition, which alters the course of normal development of the child, causing developmental delays and affecting their cognitive abilities.
Characteristics of Down syndrome
Children born with Down syndrome share some common distinctive physical characteristics.
Upward slanting eyelids
Short neck and small stature
A protruding tongue
A wide gap between the second and large toe
These people also have moderate to mild intellectual disability, for instance – learning disabilities, or delay in fine motor skills.
Unfortunately, Down syndrome cannot be cured or prevented. However, leading a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of having a baby with a chromosomal condition.
Screening and Diagnosis
Early diagnosis and screening are recommended for people at an increased risk of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome. Screening tests can evaluate the propensity of the disease being present. A few diagnostic tests can also reveal if the child will be born with Down syndrome.
Women aged between 30 and 35 years, or above, may receive genetic testing during pregnancy since the likelihood of having a baby with the disorder increases with age.
Living with Down syndrome
An encouraging home environment, premium educational programs, support from family, friends, and community, and good healthcare can help people with Down syndrome lead productive and fulfilling lives.