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October is also home to Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to recognize the contributions that those born with Down syndrome have to offer!

Just like everyone else, people with Down syndrome have strengths and talents that are unique to them, and this month we encourage others to help celebrate those abilities.

What is Down Syndrome?

Genetically, Down syndrome (DS) is a condition where a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21.

DS was first described in 1862 by English physician John Langdon Down, with the chromosome identified in 1959 by Marthe Gautier (receiving credit only in 2014) and the disorder formally recognized as trisomy 21.

Each person born with DS is different, with some displaying physical problems and/or intellectual disabilities. A common misperception is that all people with Down syndrome have a severe cognitive disability when in fact, this can range from mild to moderate.

Other health problems that may occur include heart disease, dementia, hearing problems and issues with the intestines, eyes, thyroid and skeleton.

How Common is Down Syndrome?

According to the CDC, approximately one in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with DS.

How is Down Syndrome Diagnosed?

DS is diagnosed two ways:

The prenatal screening indicates whether or not there is an increased likelihood of DS. If so, then prenatal diagnostic testing is ordered which can determine with certainty if DS is present.

The screening involves a blood test and ultrasound during the first or second trimester. For the diagnostic test, an amniocentesis is performed. This involves taking a sample of amniotic fluid to test for the extra chromosome. There is a small risk involved with amniocentesis; however, the risk ranges from < 1% to 2%.

What Can You do To Support Down Syndrome Awareness Month?

The Down Syndrome Information Alliance encourages everyone to celebrate and support Down Syndrome Awareness Month with a Random Act of Kindness every day of the month.

It’s one small way to honor and shine a bright light on the talents, abilities and joy those with Down syndrome have to offer!

They have ideas for sharing kindness to: the environment, the elderly, strangers, online, children, animals and more on their website.

A Few Facts About Down Syndrome*

* From the NDSS website

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