Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It occurs in approximately one in every 800 live births. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.
Children with Down syndrome are usually smaller, and their physical and mental developments are slower compared to children who are unaffected. The majority of children with Down syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. However while some show no sign of having an intellectual disability others may have severe intellectual disabilities.
Although individuals with Down syndrome have distinct physical characteristics, generally they are more similar to the average person in the community than they are different. Not every child with Down syndrome has all the characteristics; some may only have a few, and others may show most of the signs of Down syndrome. Some of the physical features in children include flattening of the back of the head, slanting of the eyelids, small skin folds at the inner corner of the eyes, depressed nasal bridge, slightly smaller ears, small mouth, decreased muscle tone, loose ligaments, and small hands and feet. About fifty percent of all children have one line across the palm, and there is often a gap between the first and second toes.
It’s critical for parents and other caregivers to remember that a caring and enriching home environment, early intervention, and integrated education efforts have a strong and positive influence on the child’s development.