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Down Syndrome

What is it?

Down Syndrome is also known as trisomy 21 and is a genetic condition that affects an individual’s development. People with it have lower IQ’s and low muscle tone, but often have positive personalities that bring joy to the people around them.

What causes it?

Most people have 46 chromosomes. Early on when babies are developing and cells are dividing and extra copy of the 21st chromosome is copied. So individuals with Down Syndrome have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome instead of 2. Overall they have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.

The extra copy is a chance occurrence; although there are some factors that cause a higher prevalence including the age of the mother. There is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent it.

Treatment considerations

A range of therapies (such as Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy and early learning intervention) can do a great deal towards helping a person with Down Syndrome achieve their potential. Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy helps with physical abilities and accomplishing everyday tasks. Music and Behaviour Therapy helps with emotional and social skills. Speech-Language Therapy improves communication skills.

Developmental considerations

There are often a number of developmental issues associated with this condition including increased prevalence of congenital heart disease.

Looking down the road

People with Down Syndrome have a life expectancy of around 60 years. Their life prognosis is good. Although it is a broad generalization, people with Down Syndrome tend to be happy, likable and simply need some support such as assisted living arrangements. A good number of people with Down Syndrome obtain paid employment or other jobs, but many rely on disability benefits and family support.


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