5 Common Questions About Down Syndrome

If you are planning on having a child with your partner, or if you just found out that you are your partner are expecting a child, than there are few things that you are probably scared to consider regarding the health of your little one. At the top of many parent’s fears is the possibility that their child will be born with Down syndrome.

While there are legitimate concerns to hold when it comes to having a child with Down syndrome, many of the fears that an expecting couple experience are due to ignorance on the topic. Here are 5 commonly asked questions about Down Syndrome that many parents have asked and some answers that we hope will help shed light on this issue.

1. How Can a Baby Catch Down Syndrome?
It is impossible for a baby to catch Down syndrome because it is a genetic disorder, and not an illness. Down syndrome is caused when a baby has an extra copy of their 21st chromosome. This extra copy is nothing more than excess genetic material that produces the developmental characteristics of the disorder.

Simply put, Down syndrome is not something that can be caught by, or transmitted to, babies. This formation of an additional chromosome occurs before conception, so there is no link between certain habits during pregnancy and this disorder. The additional chromosome can come from either the egg or the sperm, so neither the mother nor the father is to ‘blame’ for this disorder.

2. Is There a Cure for Down Syndrome?

There is no cure for Down syndrome for the above mentioned reasons. It is not an illness, it is a genetic disorder, and at the moment medical science has no way to ‘cure’ genetic disorders.

3. Are Certain People ‘At Risk’ for Having a Baby with Down Syndrome?

Down SyndromeDown syndrome occurs all over the world. It affects every single race and both genders. The only potential predictor for Down syndrome is the age of the mother, as mothers over the age of 35 are more likely to have children with the disorder than younger mothers. Still, numerically speaking the vast majority of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under the age of 35.

4. Are Babies with Down Syndrome ‘At Risk’ for Other Health Problems?

Yes. There are numerous health complications that affect babies with Down syndrome more commonly than other babies. Alzheimer’s is one of the main conditions that babies with Down syndrome are at risk for, though they are also more likely to develop leukemia as a child, issues with their thyroid, and a variety of other biological problems (such as heart and breathing problems).

However most of the above are easily treatable, so many babies born with Down syndrome will be able to grow up and live relatively healthy lives. While individuals with Down syndrome were unlike to make it to their teens a century ago, individuals with the disorder are highly likely to live long and full lives these days.

5. Will a Baby with Down Syndrome be Able to Attend School and Eventually Work?

Most likely. Individuals with Down syndrome attend many of the same schools as children without Down syndrome. More and more workplaces are hiring individuals with this disorder than ever before, and not solely work places that are designed around giving jobs to these individuals.

Now, not all individuals with Down syndrome will be able to attend traditional schools and work traditional jobs. The amount of ‘mainstreaming’ that individuals with the disorder are able to engage in depends entirely on the capabilities of that individual. Some people with Down syndrome are able to live, work and play relatively similar to everyone else. Others have special needs that need to be addressed and catered to.  As always, every situation is unique.

It’s very common and understandable to have questions about Down Syndrome, especially for for future parents that are worried about the potential of their child developing this disorder. We recommend that you talk with your doctors more about the subject one-on-one to make sure every concern is addresses as again each situation is unique. With so many studies and information widely available, finding answers to your questions and making sure you are well informed are the best first steps. Good luck to you.

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