What is Down syndrome?

John Langdon Down, an English physician, published an accurate description of a person with Down syndrome. Although other people had previously recognized the characteristics of the syndrome, it was Down who described the condition as a distinct and separate entity.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome, often the 21st chromosome, therefore it is also known as trisomy 21. It is associated with a lower cognitive ability and slower physical growth, and can be accompanied by physical complications such as heart defects. In recent years, surgery has helped many to successfully recover from these complications.

It takes a little longer than usual for children with Down syndrome to develop, but the steps are no different than those of your average child. It has been shown countless times that positive reinforcement from the family along with support from educational and medical professionals encourages the healthy growth of children with Down syndrome.

Frequent Asked Questions about Down syndrome

Is Down syndrome an illness?
Everyone has differences in their constitutions and characters. We believe it is more accurate to consider Down syndrome in terms of these individual differences. Worldwide, roughly one in every 1000 people is born with Down syndrome.
Why are people born with Down syndrome?
Our bodies are made up of many cells, each containing 46 chromosomes. People who happen to be born with 47 chromosomes have Down syndrome.
How is their growth affected?
Children with Down syndrome grow up like everybody else, but they do it a little more slowly. They need to be stimulated from an early age, so please smile, talk and play with them!
Where do they go to school?
Most go to day care and kindergarten just the same as other children in the neighborhood. After that, depending on their age and individual conditions, some may go to special educational schools for handicapped children.
Can they make friends?
Of course! People with Down syndrome are noted for their bright and kind dispositions. They are friendly and are quickly accepted at school, work, or whereever they may go.
What kind of jobs can they do?
They can be found working in offices, restaurants, bakeries, cleaning jobs... They can do many types of work. They can also be artists or performers. Overseas, some have become actors.