Understanding and living with Down’s syndrome
Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition, also known as trisomy 21 or just Down’s, which can cause varying levels of learning disabilities and physical characteristics. With help from support groups and therapists, it is possible to live a fulfilling life.
What is Down’s syndrome?
With approximately 40,000 people in the UK living with Down’s syndrome, it is estimated that around 750 babies with Down's syndrome are born in the UK each year. Down’s can affect people of all ages and ethnicities and happens as a result of being born with an extra chromosome (chromosome 21).
What causes Down’s syndrome?
Usually when a baby is growing in the womb, their developing cells contain 46 chromosomes, but people born with Down’s will have 47 chromosomes in some or all of their cells, which is what causes the characteristics of Down’s syndrome. Mostly, Down’s isn’t inherited and is usually just a one-off genetic change. It is believed that the likelihood of being born with Down’s is increased by the age of the mother, but there is a small chance of a child being born with the condition in any pregnancy.
Characteristics of Down’s syndrome
Everyone born with Down’s will typically have characteristic physical features and some degree of learning disability but this can vary from person to person.
Living with Down’s syndrome
There is support available to help children and adults living with the condition, particularly for new mothers. Speech and language therapy, or physiotherapy, can help to support your child’s development, whilst charities like the Down’s Syndrome Association are able to put you in touch with other families who also have a child with Down’s syndrome. Although ongoing support may be needed through their adult lives, many people with Down’s syndrome can lead a fulfilling and independent lifestyle.