Named after Dr J L Down, the condition affects one in every 1,000 people. Some are more severely affected than others.
We inherit genes from our parents and they determine our traits. Our genetic code is found in parts of our cells called chromosomes. Down's Syndrome is caused by an extra number of chromosomes(21). can come from either the mother or the father and there is no way to predict it.
Genes having extra chromosomes contain extra proteins, and this disturbs normal growth. Cells do not divide as rapidly, leading to a smaller baby. As the baby develops, cells do not move around normally, which means that the body parts do not form normally, especially the brain. This means that the baby will have fewer brain cells and a different brain formation.
There are three types:
Trisomy 21 – 94% of people with Down's Syndrome have an extra chromosome 21 in every cell of their body. Chromosomes do not separate but stay in one cell. This type is often linked to the age of the mother.
Translocation – In 4% of cases, Down's Syndrome is due to an extra part of chromosome 21 . It occurs when small bits two chromosomes break off and stick together. Parental age is not a factor. In one third of these children a parent is found to be a ‘carrier’ of Down's Syndrome and so has a higher than normal chance of having a child with the syndrome. But in two thirds the occurrence of Down's Syndrome is random.
Mosaicism – In 2% of cases, there is an extra whole 21 chromosome in only some of the body cells and the rest of the cells are normal. These children are less noticeably affected and have less obvious physical characteristics. They may have little or no intellectual difficulties.
Other sources of information for these topics.
Down Syndrome Title Page
A listing of organizations worldwide, support groups, and toy catalogs for children of special needs.
Down's Syndrome Association
Provides information, counselling and support for people with Down's syndrome, their families and carers, as well as for professionals.
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