Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Understanding Downs Syndrome

Down syndrome is thought to affect 1 in 733 children, making it not common, but not rare either. It is misunderstood by a lot of people so hopefully this will help you understand the reality.

What exactly is it?

Down syndrome is caused by having an extra chromosome. You are designed from 46 pairs of chromosomes, each chromosome is split into smaller sections, your genes, and subsequently made of DNA.

Usually you get 23 pairs of chromosomes from your Dad, and 23 from your Mum which totals to 46, your full set.

But on the off occasion, a gamete (sperm or egg cell) can be made wrong during meiosis (production of sex cells) and it's given 24 pairs.

This happens during the separation part of Meiosis. When the chromosomes move apart to go to 2 different cells, sometimes 2 get stuck together and you end up with an extra one in a cell.

So including your mums and dads and an extra one, you have 3 copies of chromosome 21, when you should just have 2.

Yep, you guessed it, that means you have 47 pairs.

It is always the 21st chromosome!

The problem

There are several theories to why the extra chromosome affects the body so much. The most popular theory is: If each gene codes for a different characteristic, and you have more than the normal amount of genes, they're going to get mixed up.

It's a bit like your body being a computer, if you have 2 mouses linked up to the computer with another person controlling the other, it's going to be mayhem doing what you want.

It's important to understand that the extra chromosome is just a regular 21st chromosome, it's the fact there's another one that causes the problems

The effects

Unfortunately there are quite a lot of impairments as a consequence. Physical characteristics being abnormal facial and body growth.

The matter gets worse, children with down syndrome often develop more health concerns as they grow up, including hearing loss and heart defects.

Mental ability is also hindered, with the average IQ of children with down syndrome being 50, without being 100.


Fortunately, with support from family, quality of life can be improved significantly resulting in a normal life albeit with certain genetic limitations.

It's expected for a child with down syndrome to complete education, and with training and social support, continue further and also live an outgoing lifestyle.


You might be thinking "oh I know about ethics blah blah" but keep reading!

The abortion rate for a child with down syndrome is appalling: 90%!

Nearly half of these is also unconfirmed, some people are willing to take no chances at all.

Maybe 100 years ago, people with down syndrome would have a really tough time, but nowadays they're expected to live a normal life. Medical and society priorities have improved by so much that they can live normal lives.

Parents are also paying huge sums of money to give their children plastic surgery so that their physical abnormalities won't show.

  • One could argue that it's simply selfish
  • However at present social structure is such a huge part of society, and research does show that 2/3 of people with down syndrome who underwent surgery feel more accepted.
Melissa Riggio

She's like you but she has down syndrome, if you'd like to hear what life is like from her own point of view, check this girl out. She talks about living her normal life and how she has everyday hobbies just like you!

Know before you judge!

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