Think you know all there is to know about Down syndrome? In an effort to spread awareness and education on the topic, we unpack some facts and figures that you may not already know:
1. In Australia and around the world, Down syndrome is the most common form of intellectual disability.
2. The population of people with Down syndrome in Australia is growing, and there are now over 13,000 people living with Down syndrome in Australia.
3. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells instead of 46.
4. The additional partial or full copy of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome can originate from either the father or the mother. Also called Trisomy 21, it covers a wide range of developmental delays and physical disabilities caused by a genetic disorder. Treatment can help, but the condition can’t be cured.
5. The exact cause of the extra chromosome that triggers Down syndrome is unknown, and can occur across all ethnic and social groups.
6. The term ‘Down syndrome’ originates from 1866 after British physician, John Langdon Down, for whom the syndrome is now named.
7. The world’s first professional model with Down syndrome is Australian Madeline Stuart, who has walked at New York fashion week and was named by Forbes magazine as number one for Diversity in the Fashion Industry in 2017.
8. It is a myth that babies with Down syndrome are all born to older mothers. Although the chance of a woman having a child with Down syndrome increases with age, 80% of all children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35.
9. The life expectancy of Australians born with Down syndrome has more than tripled in the four decades to 2002, increasing from 18 years to 60 years. The shift in public attitudes towards Down syndrome is a contributing factor to this positive outcome.
10. Australians dominate at the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships, such as 26-year-old swimmer Phoebe Mitchell - who has swum at every World Down Syndrome Championship since 2008, 3 times taking the title of Top Female Swimmer and has 15 world records to her name.
11. Many adults living with Down syndrome are able to enjoy recreational activities, hold jobs and live with a housemate or on their own just like anyone else. Independence can be an important issue for people with Down syndrome as they get older.
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