by Laura Sussely-Pope
The United Nations has officially recognized March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day! For those with Down syndrome and the families who love them, it's a hard fought and much celebrated victory. As the parent of a sweet and funny little guy with Down syndrome, it's an exciting day for our family!
World Down Syndrome Day was established in 2006 by Down Syndrome International, with the goal of raising awareness and mobilizing support and recognition of the dignity, rights and well-being of people with Down syndrome across the world. March 21, the 21st day of the third month of the year, was chosen to symbolize the third copy of chromosome 21 present in Trisomy 21, the most common form of Down syndrome.
What is Down syndrome? According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):
• Down syndrome occurs in 1 of 691 pregnancies in the U.S. It is the most common chromosomal condition. It occurs when some or all of a person's cells have an extra copy of chromosome 21.
• There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States and occurs in all socio-economic levels and in people of all races.
• The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
• People with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
• A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
• Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 and beyond today.
• People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
• All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
You can join the global community by raising awareness in celebration of people with Down syndrome, their abilities and achievements.
Share this blog, contribute to the Special Olympics or their "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. You can also educate yourself about Down syndrome and pass on what you learned. Show everyone you know how great people with Down syndrome are!
Do you know someone with Down syndrome? Are you the parent of someone with Down syndrome? How have they enriched your life?
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