Down’s syndrome is a congenital condition which is caused by a genetic malfunction where three copies are made of chromosome 21 instead of two; this is known as trisomy 21. People who are born with Down’s syndrome often suffer from both physical and mental difficulties; however, most children who have Down’s syndrome are healthy and with the right help and support, can expect to enjoy a happy and fulfilling childhood.
The likelihood of having a child with Down’s syndrome increases significantly in women who give birth over the age of 35; by the age of 49 it is estimated that the chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome is between 1 in 12 and 1 in 8. The affects of Down’s syndrome can be present in several of the body’s major systems and can subsequently disrupt several bodily functions. Usually children with Down’s syndrome grow at a much slower rate than other children of the same age and they have trouble with their sight and hearing. Depending on the individual case there may also be evidence of issues relating to thyroid activity and the alignment of the spine.
Those who suffer from Down’s syndrome are less able to learn new concepts and ideas than people who do not have the condition, on average, people with Down’s syndrome have a significantly lower IQ and reading age; for this reason most children attend specialist schools where education is tailored to their intellectual capacity.