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What is Down Syndrome? •

Down Syndrome (DS) is a chromosomal disorder in which the affected individual has one extra chromosome in addition to what is the normally allocated number of chromosomes. Every human being has 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs. In people with Down Syndrome, the chromosome pair number 21 has three copies instead of two so that the total number of chromosomes is 47 instead of the normal 46. Each man’s sperm has 23 chromosomes and so does each woman’s egg, so that when conception occurs and the sperm fertilises the egg, a new human being with a full complement of chromosomes is formed. Sometimes mistakes occur and lead to what are described as chromosomal abnormalities. Down Syndrome is one of the commonest of these.

At conception, instead of one number 21 chromosome from the father and one from the mother coming together, a third chromosome creeps in and is then duplicated in every cell of the baby’s body. Down Syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, is the most common chromosomal abnormality, occurring approximately once in every 600 births. www.bangalorefetalmedicine.com


Why should we test for Down’s syndrome? • Down Syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality and can have a major social, financial and emotional impact on a family. It is the commonest cause of global developmental delay in children, which is NOT inherited.

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What are the characteristics of Down’s syndrome? • People with Down Syndrome will all have some degree of learning difficulty. Many people with Down’s will go to ordinary schools and lead semi-independent lives, but others will need full-time care. Certain medical conditions are more likely to occur in people with Down Syndrome. These include: – heart defects, which occur in one in three children with Down’s www.bangalorefetalmedicine.com


Are you at risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome? • Every mother is at a risk of having a child with Down Syndrome and this increases with the mother’s age, especially over the age of 35. However, majority of babies with Down’s syndrome are born to the relatively younger mothers because there are more number of pregnancies in women below the age of 35.

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What can you do to find out whether or not your baby has Down’s syndrome? • The mother can undergo certain tests in pregnancy. There are two types of test available – screening tests and diagnostic tests. A screening test estimates the risk of your baby having Down Syndrome. It only tells you whether or not you are at particularly high risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome. This does not confirm the chromosome status of your baby. A diagnostic test can give you a definite diagnosis, but also carries a small risk of miscarriage.

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Down syndrome