Down syndrome (sometimes called Down’s syndrome) is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome — hence its other name, trisomy 21. This causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities. People with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are bundles of genes, and your body relies on having just the right number of them. With Down syndrome, this extra chromosome leads to a range of issues that affect you both mentally and physically. Down syndrome is a lifelong condition. Although it can’t be cured, doctors know more about it now than ever. If your child has it, getting the right care early on can make a big difference in helping him live a full and meaningful life. Down syndrome can have many effects, and it’s very different for each person.
Some will grow up to live almost entirely on their own, while others will need more help taking care of themselves. People with Down syndrome tend to have certain physical features in common. Normally, each cell in your body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. One chromosome in each pair comes from your mother. The other comes from your father. But with Down syndrome, something goes wrong and you get an extra copy of chromosome 21. That means you have three copies instead of two, which leads to the signs and symptoms of Down syndrome. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens. There’s no link to anything in the environment or anything the parents did or didn’t do.
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