Is Down syndrome getting common?
December 6, 2006 11:20pm CST
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder resulting from the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome. Down syndrome is characterized by a combination of major and minor abnormalities of body structure and function. Among features present in nearly all cases are impairment of learning and physical growth, and a recognizable facial appearance usually identified at birth. Individuals with Down syndrome have lower than average cognitive ability, normally ranging from mild to moderate retardation. Some individuals may have low intelligence overall, but will generally have some amount of developmental disability, such as a tendency toward concrete thinking or naïveté. The incidence of Down syndrome is estimated at 1 per 800 to 1 per 1000 births. The common physical features of Down syndrome also appear in people with a standard set of chromosomes. They include a simian crease, almond shaped eyes, shorter limbs, speech impairment, and protruding tongue. Early childhood intervention, screening for common problems, medical treatment where indicated, a conducive family environment, and vocational training can improve the overall development of children with Down syndrome. While some of the genetic limitations of Down Syndrome cannot be overcome, education and proper care, initiated at any time, can improve quality of life.