Tuesday, March 21, 2017
March 21st isn’t just another day on the calendar. Chosen because the date 3/21 reflects the chromosomal condition of a 3rd iteration of the 21st chromosome, it’s recognized across the globe as World Down Syndrome Day, a day meant to raise awareness and give voice to the individuals and families affected by this condition that affects roughly one in every 700 babies born in America today.
As part of our effort to speak up about issues and challenges facing people with Down Syndrome, here are some important facts and issues:
Down Syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition, affecting roughly 6,000 children each year in the United States. Experts estimate there are approximately 400,000 people in the nation living with Down Syndrome and 38% of Americans know someone with Down Syndrome.
There are three different types of Down Syndrome. The most common, Trisomy 21, accounts for about 95% of all Down Syndrome cases and involves the affected person having a third copy of their 21st chromosome, instead of the usual two copies. Mosaic Down Syndrome is similar to Trisomy 21, except the condition only occurs in some of the person’s individual cells as opposed to of all of them. The third type, Translocation Down Syndrome, occurs when a person has a part of a 3rd chromosome or an entire 3rd chromosome in the 21st set that is specifically attached (or translocated) to the usual pair.
Specialty educational programs, an engaging home environment, reliable healthcare, and positive support from family, friends, and the local community are all important components to helping people with Down syndrome lead full, productive, happy lives. Individuals with Down Syndrome frequently attend college, hold full-time employment, maintain relationships, and engage with society in many of the ways other people do.
Quality of life for those with Down Syndrome continues to improve. Studies have shown that the average IQ of a person with Down Syndrome is increasing, with about 40% of people with Down Syndrome displaying mild intellectual ability and a full 1% displaying borderline intellectual ability. The numbers of people with Down Syndrome that are living independently and getting married are steadily climbing as well.
While most people with Down Syndrome can lead full lives, they do face increased risk for certain illnesses such as respiratory and hearing problems, congenital heart defects, childhood leukemia, thyroid problems, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, vision impairment, and Alzheimer's disease. Life expectancy for individuals with Down Syndrome today is about 60 years, compared to only 25 years in 1983.
The dramatic increase in life expectancy illustrates why it is so important for families affected by Down Syndrome to provide proper care and comfort for their loved ones. Home care for individuals with Down Syndrome and other difficult conditions is one of the many services we offer at CommandCare. Our expert caregivers and home care professionals understand the specialized needs and provide the highest level of physical therapy assistance with compassion and sensitivity.
If you or a loved one is in need of versatile, professional, reliable home care or caregiver assistance, contact CommandCare and learn how we can help. Also, be sure to visit the Down Syndrome International and National Down Syndrome Society online for more information and resources related to living with Down Syndrome.
Arthur Blanchard has never let Down Syndrome hold him back!