Blog #26~ October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
Each October everything turns pink for breast cancer awareness. Even the NFL players and referees wear pink. Everything is illuminated including the Tower of London, The White House, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and even Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue is glowing pink.
But did you know that October is also Down syndrome Awareness Month? How much do you know about Down syndrome? Here are a few facts about Down syndrome courtesy of The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):
- Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
- There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95% of cases, translocation accounts for about 4% and mosaicism accounts for about 1%.
- Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
- There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
- Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
- The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
- People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
- A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
- Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
- People with Down syndrome attend school, work and participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
- All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
- Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
My boys, Hank and Nick 🙂
Since this is about awareness, it is important to educate people on the appropriate language that should be used. People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Do not say- “a Down syndrome child.” Instead say, “a child with Down syndrome.” Here are three more improper phrases to avoid are “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.” Finally it should be said “Down” and not “Down’s.” Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it.
Here are some great links promoting Down syndrome:
* NDSS Buddy Walks take place all over the country raising over 11 million to support local and national programs.
*Times Square jumbotron kicks off with a special Down syndrome awareness video. Their website is at www.ndss.org.
*The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) sponsors their campaign called, “More Alike than Different.” Check out their website at www.ndsccenter.org.
*Here in the Chicagoland area, the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) provides bookmarks and posters that can be distributed in the community to schools, libraries, book stores and businesses. This group is based in Chicago. For more information go to www.nads.org.
*GiGi’s Playhouse is another wonderful group that started in the suburbs of Chicago and has grown to expand around the country. GiGi’s Playhouses are Down syndrome awareness and educational centers that provide resources, specialized teaching, and support to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. They have a wonderful calendar and notecards available for purchase. More information is at www.gigisplayhouse.org.
*One of my favorite websites is www.noahsdad.com. Noah is the cutest thing and his dad does a superior job of presenting his son in a positive light.
I hope this week provided some further insight and information about Down syndrome. That’s what is in my noggin this week. Most of us have been affected with or by breast cancer in some way. I hope this month raises awareness and more funding for breast cancer and Down syndrome. I would love to hear how a person with Down syndrome has touched your life.
My son, Nick rocks that extra chromosome! 🙂