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About Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is genetic disorder and the most common cause of birth defects in human. A person born with this disorder has 47 instead of usual 46 chromosomes. Since this is usually an extra copy of 21st chromosome, this type of Down syndrome is also known as trisomy 21.

This extra chromosome is responsible for all problems patients suffering from Down syndrome have, especially because it affects the development of the brain and whole human body. Down syndrome patients are characterized with symptoms such as slightly flattened profile and upward slant eyes. In most cases, these people have flat bridge of the nose, small mouth and head, while their neck is also often very short, with some excess skin at the back. Their ears are also very small and their hands are wide and short, with very short fingers and with a single crease in the palm. Children suffering from Down’s syndrome are usually smaller than healthy children of the same age. At birth, these children have decreased muscle tone but they are able to extend their joints quite a lot (this condition is known as hyperflexibility).

There are different problems with the mental and social development of children with Down’s syndrome. Most commonly, they are slow learners which can’t pay attention for a long period of time. People with Down syndrome usually have mild to moderate mental problems, but some may have more severe difficulties. Impulsive behavior and poor judgment are often seen in these kids, as well as anger and frustrations once they grow older and realize their limitations.

Possible Health Complications

People suffering from Down syndrome often experience various medical complications. These patients may suffer from different heart problems and difficulties in the functioning of the gastrointestinal system or the lungs. About 40% of children with Down syndrome have some congenital heart defects and for that reason newborns are tested to these problems.

Another problem which is found to affect children with Down syndrome is leukemia. These kids have 10 to 15 times higher chances to develop leukemia than healthy children of their age.

Prevention of Down Syndrome

Exact cause of Down syndrome is still unknown. No one can tell why some children happen to suffer from this genetic disorder. What doctors know so far is that religion, race or economic status of the parents plays no part in the development of this disorder. Many doctors claim that the risk of having a child with this syndrome increases significantly after mother turns 35. People who have family history of Down syndrome are advised to get some medical counseling and those who already have a child with this condition should known that they are exposed to greater risk of having another baby with Down syndrome.

Amniocentesis, nuchal translucency ultrasound and chorionic villus sampling tests can detect Down syndrome in first few months of pregnancy and every women may be screened for this syndrome.

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