More than 400,000 people have Down syndrome in the United States, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.
October has been set aside as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time for the community to be educated on the genetic condition.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three copies of the 21st chromosome, instead of the usual two. The condition occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
As the most common chromosomal condition, one of every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome. All people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays, usually mild to moderate. Despite the delays, people with Down syndrome attend school, work and participate in decision making.
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.
People with Down syndrome have increased risk for additional medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions.
Research is being done to identify the genes on Chromosome 21 that cause Down syndrome. Many researchers feel that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many problems associated with Down syndrome in the future.