October is Down syndrome month

October is Down Syndrome awareness month. Did you know that Down syndrome is a developmental disability that affects over 400,000 people in the United States? October is a time to celebrate the abilities of those with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome occurs when a baby has a full or partial extra chromosome 21. This extra chromosome will change the course of development.  There are three types of Down Syndrome - trisomy 21, translocation and mosaicism.  Trisomy 21 is the type found in 95 percent of the cases.

People with Down Syndrome now have the life expectancy to age 60. In 1982, the life expectancy was only about 25 years old.  Many who have the disability live full active lives. They attend school, work, and are able to make decisions for themselves.

Down Syndrome can happen to anyone regardless of race, income or ethnic background.  The characteristics of those with the disability are that they are shorter,low muscle tone, and upward slant to the eye.  However, each person with Down Syndrome is different in their own way.

It used to be that babies born to mothers older than 35 had an increased chance to have a baby with Down syndrome. But now eighty percent of the cases are from mothers younger than 35.

Luckily, due to medical advances, people who have Down syndrome live longer even they are more inclined to get sicknesses. They are more likely to have heart defects, certain types of cancer, hearing problems and memory loss.

Even though all people who have Down Syndrome have some cognitive disability, they are often mild.  They do not take away from the person's talents, personality, love and capabilities to live a life that they want.

Take time to understand people with Down Syndrome. They are individuals who might have some differences and challenges, but they are still incredible people. They strive to live out the most wonderful life possible.

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