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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month (#DSAM) is an opportunity to spread awareness and learn new information. During the month of October, we celebrate individuals with Down syndrome near and far! With so much information out there, learning about Down syndrome can be overwhelming. But don’t worry! We put together this basic information sheet to help break it down.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a disability that occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Around one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome (6,000 per year). These numbers rank Down syndrome as the #1 most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. It is called Down syndrome because it was first studied by a doctor named John Langdon Down.

Different Types of Down Syndrome

  1. Trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of cases. Prior to or at conception, a pair of 21st chromosomes in fails to separate. As the embryo develops, the extra chromosome is replicated in every cell of the body.
  2. Translocation accounts for 4% of cases. An additional full or partial copy of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome. The presence of the extra full or partial chromosome 21 causes the characteristics of Down syndrome
  3. Mosaicism accounts for 1% of cases. There is a mixture of two types of cells, some containing the usual 46 chromosomes and some containing 47. Those cells with 47 chromosomes contain an extra chromosome 21.

Physical Traits:

  • low muscle tone
  • single deep crease across the palm of the hand
  • slightly flattened facial profile
  • upward slant to the eyes
  • shorter neck, hands, and fingers
  • smaller head, ears, and mouth

Preferred Language

  • People first language is important. For example, a child with Down syndrome should not be referred to as “a Down syndrome child” or a “Down’s child.”
  • Down syndrome is not a disease it is a condition or a syndrome and should be referred to as such.
  • People do not “suffer from” and are not “afflicted by” Down syndrome. The best way to phrase this kind of statement is to say people “have” Down syndrome.
  • “Typically developing” or “typical” is preferred over the word “normal.”
  •  “Mental retardation” has been replaced by “intellectual disability” or “cognitive disability” as appropriate terms to use.

For more information visit the National Down Syndrome Society –

Haley Lebel-StephenDown Syndrome Awareness Month

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