October is Down Syndrome Awareness month! This month is also special to me because one year ago this month (on Oct. 29) I got the phone call from my midwife's office telling me that the results of my Quad screen were in and I had raised AFP levels which could indicate my baby had Down syndrome. The idea of having a child with Down syndrome had never crossed my mind before, so I find it highly coincidental that I found out about Ds during Down Syndrome Awareness month. I am really excited about this month because we have two Buddy Walks we will walk in and I just hope that as people around the country advocate for Down syndrome this month particularly, that love and acceptance of people with Down syndrome will abound and the world will be a happier place.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs in one in every 733 births. It is the most frequently occuring chromosomal condition and is found in people of all races and economic levels. More than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome.
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. However, many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades--from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
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 each individual possesses. Children with Down syndrome learn to sit, walk, talk, play, and do most other activities; only somewhat later than their peers without Down syndrome.
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. People with Down syndrome attend school and work, and participate in decisions that concern them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.