Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder and it is characterized by an extra chromosome (the 21st chromosome). This way instead of having 46 chromosomes (23 pairs of chromosomes) a person suffering from Down syndrome has 47 chromosomes. The disorder develops as a consequence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome is also known as trysomy 21. This extra chromosome is responsible for physical as well as psychological problems of people suffering from Down syndrome. It is essential to mention that Down syndrome represents the most common single cause of human birth defects.
Down Syndrome and Effects on the Physique
Children suffering from Down syndrome have decreased muscle tone at birth, excess of skin at the nape of the neck, separated joints between the bones of the skull (sutures), flattened nose, single crease in the palm of the hand, small ears, small mouth, upward slanting eyes (almond-shaped eyes), wide and short hands with short fingers and white spots on the colored part of the eye (Brushfield spots).
Down Syndrome and Susceptibility to Diseases
Children suffering from Down syndrome are at a higher risk of heart disease. They are usually born with some heart diseases (congenital heart conditions). Furthermore, such children tend to develop gastroesophageal reflux disease. They are prone to frequent ear infections, sleep apnea and thyroid problems. And finally, Down syndrome is associated with epilepsy, leukemia and several more disorders of the immune system.
Down Syndrome and Mental Ability
Children suffering from Down syndrome are mentally challenged. Cognitive development and how much the syndrome affects it varies from person to person. One of typical characteristics of this chromosomal disorder is a delay in acquiring speech and fine motor skills. Language and communication skills of such children are different from these abilities in normal children. They are generally inarticulate in the language and communication skills. Furthermore, their intellectual as well as emotional development is delayed. Children suffering from Down syndrome cannot develop normal social abilities and may have difficulties coping with complex thinking. This is why they simply cannot understand and learn about certain topics or areas. Learning disability is another characteristic of these children.
Other Effects of Down Syndrome
Apart from the previously mentioned people suffering from Down syndrome suffer from a reduction in fertility. But even they can become parents. Down syndrome is associated with higher risk of getting certain types of cancer. Down syndrome also carries a higher risk for diabetes and all the complications related to the disease. Since there are many complications and effects associated with Down syndrome these children have to be controlled regularly and in this way potential illnesses can be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.