What is Down Syndrome? Where does it come from? Is there a cure? About one in every 800 American babies is born with Down syndrome, and it is estimated that about 350,000 people in the United States, and just under 6 million people worldwide live with this condition today. There is a false impression that pregnancy screening has eliminated or substantially reduced the incidence of Down syndrome in the population. Despite years of screening, the Down syndrome population in the country has remained stable. Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21, as it is called within the medical community, is caused by an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. An error in cell division, called non-disjunction, happens at the moment of conception for reasons we still do not understand. The extra chromosome causes varying degrees of cognitive impairment and physical abnormalities. Most people with Down syndrome have cognitive impairment falling in the mild to moderate range, and they have speech and language difficulties. Once a baby is born with Down syndrome, he or she will always have an extra chromosome. The objective of the treatment is to improve cognition by improving learning, memory, and speech for individuals with DS. No one can say for sure how much cognition could be improved. However, even a modest improvement of 10-20% in cognition could have enormous impact on the life of a person with Down syndrome. Because the majority of individuals with Down syndrome fall into the mild to moderate range of cognitive impairment, a 10-20% improvement would enable most persons with Down syndrome to function much more independently in school and the workplace. Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder caused by a chromosomal abnormality. It affects 1 out of every 800 to 1,000 babies. For many years, scientists believed that Down syndrome was too complex to understand, and they believed that there was no way to reverse or reduce the severity of...
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