Down syndrome is a condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Typically, each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. Individuals with Down syndrome have a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
Chromosomes contain genes that determine one’s traits. The presence of an additional chromosome affects their physical and mental development. Common physical traits associated with Down syndrome include low muscle tone, small stature, upward slanting eyes, and a single deep crease across the centre of the palm. A person doesn’t necessarily possess all these characteristics as the symptoms vary in every individual. Some people might also have health-related complications like heart conditions while others may not.
How Common Is Down Syndrome?
The approximate prevalence rate of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1000 births worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. It can happen to people regardless of their race, age, or gender.
Typically, women over the age of 35 may have a higher risk of having a child with the condition. However, 80 per cent of children with down syndrome are born to women younger than 35 years old. It is a genetic condition, but it is not considered to be hereditary. Only one per cent of all cases are passed from parent to child.
How Can it Be Detected?
Doctors can detect it through prenatal tests (screening or diagnostic tests). They can also detect it at the time of birth (through observation of physical characteristics or through a chromosomal analysis called a karyotype).
Taking Care of a Child with Down syndrome
Individuals may have mild to severe delays in cognitive and physical development. To avoid the long-term effects of down syndrome on everyday life, an early intervention is important for the child to accelerate their motor and cognitive development. Treatment programs for children may include occupational, physical, and speech therapies.
Some individuals may have heart conditions. However, with corrective heart surgeries, 80 per cent of adults with it live a long life.
Using Appropriate Language
It is also important to use the right language when addressing individuals. As it is a condition and not a disease, it is advised not to use language such as saying individuals “suffer” it or are “afflicted” by it. Instead, it is appropriate to say that individuals “have” Down syndrome. Experts also advise saying, “a child/adult with down syndrome” as opposed to “down syndrome child/adult”.
WonderTree provides exciting and fun augmented reality-based games for children with down syndrome, to develop their motor, cognitive, and functional skills. The in-built reporting feature also helps the teachers/parents to track the progress in the development of each child while they play these games.
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