What is Down Syndrome?

Every cell of the human body contains a nucleus, in which genetic material is stored within genes. These genes carry the codes which are responsible for all of our inherited traits. Genes are grouped along a rod-shaped structure called a chromosome. Each cell within a person’s body contains their DNA or genetic code, which usually consists of 23 pairs of chromosomes — with one of the chromosomes in each pair comes from the child’s mother and the other from the child’s father. These 46 chromosomes are an individual’s genetic blueprint — the thing that makes them who they are, determining thecharacteristics like personality traits, eye color, and inherited risk of different diseases.

The human body relies on having just the right number of chromosomes (as they carry bundles of genes). Down syndrome is a pathology that occurs when an individual has a partial or full extra copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome causes several issues that affect you both physically and mentally.

As the 21st chromosome contains 350 genes, and most probably all of them contribute to Down syndrome. So it is a pretty complex disorder.

This extra genetic material affects the course of development. Some of the common physical traits related to Down syndrome are small stature, low muscle tone, a single deep crease along the center of the palm, and an upward slant to the eyes– although each individual with Down syndrome is a unique person and may possess these traits to different degrees, or not at all.

The extra chromosome is present within a person from the moment of conception, so there is no chance that a person can develop Down syndrome after birth or later in life, so either you have down syndrome at birth or don’t have it.

The severity of Down syndrome varies among individuals, causing developmental delays and lifelong intellectual disability. It’s the most common form of a genetic disorder and causes learning disabilities in children. It also causes many other medical abnormalities, including gastrointestinal and heart diseases.

Early interventions and a better understanding of Down syndrome can increase the quality of life for adults and children with this disorder and help them live better lives.

Unlike many other lifelong disabilities with shorter life expectancy, Down syndrome patients can live fulfilling and healthy lives. Recent advancements in medical fields and institutional and cultural support for people with Down syndrome and their families increased the opportunities to help reduce the challenges of this condition.