I was forty three years old when I was expecting my ninth child!
When I was nearing my due date, a pregnant friend of mine who was about the same age as I was, gave birth to her beautiful, bouncing baby boy.
He was very quickly diagnosed with Down Syndrome and he also needed heart surgery.
Upon hearing that news, I wondered if my baby would be born with Down Syndrome too.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I worried that I would not be able to cope with another child with disabilities or go through another child needing a dangerous life saving surgery. I honestly did not know if I could deal with all of that on top of also dealing with my recently disabled three year old daughter who was still recuperating from brain tumor surgery.
I didn’t actually know anything at all about Down Syndrome at the time, but if I had known what I know now, I might not have been so worried about giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome!
And so since October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you all a few things that I have learned about Down Syndrome.
A few Facts About Down Syndrome:
• The three types of Down Syndrome are: 1. Trisomy 21(nondisjunction) happens when there is an error in cell division, resulting in the baby having three copies of chromosome 21.
2. Mosaicism: happens when there is a mixture of two types of cells, some containing the usual 46 chromosomes and some containing 47. Those cells with 47 chromosomes contain an extra chromosome 21.
3. Translocation happens when an additional full or partial copy of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome, usually chromosome 14. • Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition.
• There are approximately 400,000 people in the US who have Down Syndrome.
• People with Down Syndrome do have an increased risk of also having other medical conditions such as: ◦ Heart defects ◦ Respiratory ailments ◦ Hearing problems ◦ Alzheimer’s ◦ Childhood Leukemia and ◦ Thyroid conditions.
• With one in every 691 babies in the United States being born with Down syndrome, or around 6,000 births per year, it is not as rare as I had once thought! It is not just women over the age of 35 that give birth to babies with Down Syndrome. Even though the risk increases for women over 35, more babies with Downs are actually born to women under age 35.
• All individuals with Down Syndrome are not born with severe cognitive disabilities.
• There is plenty of community support available for families affected by Down Syndrome. Not all babies born with Down Syndrome also have heart problems.
• Babies with Down Syndrome can grow up to be active, participating contributors and valuable assets to the communities in which they live, work, and play!
But after all the facts are said and done, perhaps the most important thing about Down Syndrome that I want you to know is that all the children and adults with Down Syndrome that I know are the sweetest, funniest, smartest, most loving, conscientious people, and the hardest workers I have ever met!
Some information contained in this post was taken from: National Down Syndrome Society.
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