TYLER, Texas (KETK)- October is recognized as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, according to Texas Health and Human Services.
Every year, approximately 6,000 children are born with this condition in the United States. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the country.
A person typically has 46 chromosomes, and they get 23 from each parent.
Babies that are born with Down syndrome have a copy of chromosome 21, and this affects their development.
The condition also impacts about one in 700 babies.
There are three types of Down syndrome:
- Trisomy 21 — each cell has three copies of chromosome 21. Most people have this type.
- Translocation Down syndrome — an extra whole or extra part of chromosome 21 is present, but it’s attached to a different chromosome. This occurs in about 3% of people with Down syndrome.
- Mosaic Down syndrome — cells have a combination of the above two conditions. This affects about 2% of those with Down syndrome.
People with Down syndrome have a higher risk of having respiratory and hearing problems as well as thyroid or eye issues or other health problems.
They can also have issues like low birth weight and heart defects that can result in death within the first year.
About 40% of babies born with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects. These problems can affect the shape of their heart and how it functions, but most of these issues can be treated.
People with Down syndrome have different abilities, and development may be slower for some individuals.
“Prior to coming to work at HHSC, I had worked as an early intervention specialist with a local Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program and worked with children with different capabilities,” said Erika Alvarez, ECI family liaison. “Helping families and witnessing their progress is truly heartwarming. I fondly remember a mother who had a daughter with Down syndrome. She initially found it hard to accept her daughter’s diagnosis but soon became her daughter’s biggest advocate. The mom became very engaged in the sessions, asked for resources and joined groups to surround herself with support.”
Health experts also mentioned it is significant to enroll children with Down syndrome in different programs such as speech, occupational and physical therapy. This will assist their development so they may reach their full potential.
Through HHS, families can reach out to the Early Childhood Intervention Services and Healthy Texas Babies programs and read the Information About Down Syndrome for New and Expecting Parents brochure.