03 June 2007

Down's Syndrome Awareness Week

This week (4th-10th June) is Down's Syndrome Awareness Week. A campaign week that aims to raise awareness of the condition, dispel myths and allay the fears surrounding Down Syndrome. It is a national initiative organised by the Down's Syndrome Association. This year the main focus of the week this year will be improving employment prospects for adults with Down’s syndrome.

So bearing in mind it's Down Syndrome Awareness Week I thought I'd help raise awareness of Down Syndrome by a post about it!

Down syndrome is a genetic condition which is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. The name ‘Down’ comes from the English doctor, John Langdon Down, who first described the syndrome in 1866 and ‘syndrome’ comes from the description of a collection of signs or characteristics.

Everyday in the UK, an average of one or two babies are born with Down syndrome, which means that one baby in 1000 has the condition. People with Down syndrome have a certain degree of learning disability however the degree of disability varies from person to person and it is impossible to tell at birth what that degree will be, most children with Down syndrome do learn to walk, talk, read and write just that their development is usually delayed.
There are certain physical characteristics that are shared by people with Down syndrome though not every child with the condition has every characteristic. Common characteristics are:
  • Low muscle tone (although this improves with age)
  • Lower than average birth weight and a slower pace of weight gain
  • Eyes that slant upward and outward, the eyelids often have an extra fold of skin (epicanthic fold) which appears to exaggerate the slant
  • A flatter than average back of the head
  • A single crease which runs right across the palm of the hand
About forty per cent of children with Down syndrome have an associated heart defect. These heart conditions vary from small holes in the heart to more complex problems which may require major open heart surgery. The majority of these defects can be corrected and the prognosis is very good.
All babies are different from each other and the same is true of babies with Down syndrome, this means that in some babies the characteristic signs of Down syndrome are fairly easy to recognise soon after birth, however others need a blood test to check the chromosomes.

Lastly, I'd like to add a little picture of the daughter of a friend of mine, I'm sure you'll agree that she is gorgeous! Her mummy is a great advocate for Down Syndrome and wants the world know that having a baby with Down Syndrome is NOT the end of the world.
Please feel free to add your comments about your experiences of children with Down Syndrome (and send me any photos you want me to add).

For more information:

1 comment:

Axistive said...

I'm a little late for the week, but really, I don't think that there should be any time limits placed on raising your awareness of issues like this. Thank you for this post.