What is Down Syndrome

Learn about Down syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting 1 in every 700 babies. Explore its symptoms, causes, impact, and inspiring case studies.


Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common chromosomal condition in the United States, affecting approximately 1 in every 700 babies born. In this article, we will explore what Down syndrome is, its symptoms, causes, and how it impacts individuals and their families.


Individuals with Down syndrome often have characteristic physical features, such as a flat face, slanted eyes, and small stature. They may also experience intellectual disabilities, delayed development, and health issues such as heart defects, respiratory problems, and hearing loss.


Down syndrome occurs when there is an error in cell division during the formation of reproductive cells. This error leads to an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of the body. While the exact cause of this error is unknown, it is believed to be related to maternal age, as older women have a higher risk of having a child with Down syndrome.


Individuals with Down syndrome can lead fulfilling lives with the appropriate support and resources. They may face challenges in areas such as learning, communication, and social interactions, but many are able to attend school, hold jobs, and live independently. Families of individuals with Down syndrome often report increased levels of compassion, patience, and love as they navigate the unique experiences and joys of raising a child with special needs.

Case Studies

One notable case study is Chris Burke, an actor known for his role on the TV show ‘Life Goes On.’ Burke has Down syndrome and has become a successful performer, breaking barriers and stereotypes in Hollywood. Another inspiring story is that of Karen Gaffney, a motivational speaker and advocate for individuals with Down syndrome who has swum the English Channel and completed several marathons.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome in the United States each year. The average life expectancy for individuals with Down syndrome has increased significantly in recent decades, with many living into their 60s and beyond.

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