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Down Syndrome Day 2021

Sunday 21 March was World Down Syndrome Day. Down syndrome is most commonly caused by trisomy 21, a chromosomal abnormality in which an embryo receives 3 copies of chromosome 21. People with Down syndrome typically have distinct facial features and some degree of developmental delays.


In recent years, social and clinical attitudes surrounding Down syndrome have shifted somewhat. Down syndrome can be associated with a huge range of physical conditions, from heart malformations to vision problems, or predispositions to certain illnesses also commonly found in people without trisomy 21. The variety of health conditions among people with Down syndrome is vast, and many people with Down syndrome are entirely healthy, making it difficult to claim that a particular set of “symptoms” exists for trisomy 21. As such, advocates urge people to think of Down syndrome less as a disorder, and more as a natural condition that can (but won’t necessarily) lead to health issues down the line.

There is no “cure” for Down syndrome — in fact, speaking of the condition as something that calls for a cure is not helpful or accurate, given that it often carries little to no risk to a person’s overall health. People can receive treatment for Down syndrome-associated health conditions, or undertake physical or occupational therapies to supplement standard schooling, but these treatments should not be thought of as attempts to cure Down syndrome itself.


Organisations like the Canadian Down Syndrome Society and US National Association for Down Syndrome are working to place people with Down syndrome at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about the condition. To hear people with Down syndrome answer questions about the syndrome in their own words, check out cdss.ca/down-syndrome-answers.






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