Sunday, October 6, 2013

Down Syndrome, Defined

I thought I would begin my 31 Days by posting the answer to a basic question:

What is Down syndrome, anyway??

In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits.  These genes are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent.  Down syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21.

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.  A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.  However, each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and might possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.

source:  National Down Syndrome Society

In a pensive mood

T possesses some, but not all, of the common physical traits associated with Down syndrome.  He has low muscle tone and an upward slant to his eyes.  He does not have a single deep crease across the center of his palm or small stature.  (More on growth charts in a future post!)

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