Down syndrome is a genetic disorder where a child is born with one additional chromosome. Humans usually have 46 chromosomes but children suffering from Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. This additional chromosome occurs due to incorrect cell division when the baby is in-uterus.
This condition leads to the inability to learn and function normally. Depending on the degree of the condition, there can even be physical disabilities along with learning limitations.
Causes of Down Syndrome
The main, immediate cause of Down syndrome is the presence of one additional chromosome.
Babies normally get 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father. Each cell in the baby contains 23 genetic pairs of chromosomes that help the cell identify itself and grow. Sometimes one additional chromosome is passed on to the child. This additional chromosome can be passed on from either parent. In such cases the child has 47 chromosomes, leading to Down syndrome. The additional chromosome is usually an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This condition is also known as Trisomy 21 and accounts for 95 percent of the cases in Down syndrome.
Common causes of Down syndrome are usually risk factors associated with the mother’s health at the time of conceiving a baby. Advanced maternal age is considered a big risk. If the mother’s age is 25 at the time of conceiving, the chances of a baby with Down syndrome are 1 in 1,250. As the mother grows older, these chances increase. At 40, her chances have increased to 1 in a 100.
Technology today can help identify babies and check their conditions even before they are born. If the mother is advanced in age and is pregnant, tests are often conducted to check if the baby has Down syndrome. There are no specific causes of Down syndrome during pregnancy other than the mother’s age. No activity or environment is known to trigger this condition.
Couples trying to have a baby late are usually advised to do a genetic profile to gauge the likelihood of Down syndrome.
A couple with one child suffering from Down syndrome has a higher likelihood of conceiving another child with Down syndrome. Either parent having the syndrome also increases the chance for the child to be born with this genetic condition.
There are no specific causes of Down syndrome in children other than being born with it due to an additional chromosome. This syndrome can affect the child’s quality of life and impair cognitive and physical development, depending on the severity.
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