Down syndrome is a birth defect that occurs in approximately one in 900 births. It is characterized by varying degrees of mental retardation and changes in appearance. Less than half of all babies born with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects, and many have visual and hearing problems.
Currently, there are over 250,000 people with Down syndrome living in the U.S. Down syndrome is not curable. The life expectancy of someone with Down syndrome is about 55 years.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal birth defect. A normal baby develops with 23 chromosomes contributed by both the mother’s and the father’s cells. When one cell contributes 24 chromosomes instead of 23, the extra chromosome (number 21) results in Down syndrome. The birth defect is also known as Trisomy 21, because of the presence of three number 21 chromosomes.
There are many support groups that you can contact for more information. Here are just a few:
National Down Syndrome Society
New York, NY 10012
National Down Syndrome Congress
1605 Chantilly Drive, Suite 250
Atlanta, GA 30324
International Resource Center for Down Syndrome
CWRU-School of Medicine
Cleveland, OH 44106-4921
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