World Down Syndrome Day: 6 Myths About Down Syndrome


There are still many misconceptions about Down’s syndrome
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With the incidence of Down syndrome in the United Arab Emirates being more than twice the global average, it is crucial to debunk some of the commonly held misconceptions about the disease and what it means for those who have it. We spoke to Dr Ladimari Toledo Hoeppler, PhD, Managing Director, Social Skills Development / Independent Living Skills at the Dubai Down Syndrome Center, to help dispel some of the major myths about this disease …

The incidence of trisomy 21 among Emiratis in Dubai is 1 in 320 births (1: 319), higher than the global average of 1 in 800 births, according to data released by the Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) – March 2013.

It is not known why the presence of an additional chromosome no. 21 is happening, but it can come from the mother or the father, however it is important to remember that this is not anyone’s ‘fault’ and that nothing could have been done differently to prevent this from happening. Down syndrome occurs in all races, all social classes and in all countries of the world. It can happen to anyone.

There are three types of Down syndrome:

1. Down’s syndrome is the most common and accounts for about 95% of all cases. An extra chromosome is replicated in every cell in the developing body.

2. Translocation accounts for about 3 percent of trisomy 21 cases. Here, the child is born with the usual 46 chromosomes, but has a copy of chromosome 21 that attaches to another chromosome in the cell.

3. Mosaicism accounts for about 2% of Down syndrome cases. Babies born with this type of Down syndrome have cells with 46 chromosomes and 47 cells, resulting in fewer and less severe symptoms.

Although people have negative preconceptions about what it means for someone to have Down syndrome, many who live with the disease grow up to lead long and fulfilling semi-independent lives. It is also important to recognize that although non-invasive prenatal screening for Down syndrome is now widely available, even a positive diagnosis is only valid for a suspected Down syndrome – there is still a margin of error. in the diagnosis, and it is possible to have a false positive.

Common Myths About Down Syndrome

MYTH: “Down’s syndrome is a disease”

Down syndrome is not a disease, but a genetic disease that occurs when there is the presence of an extra chromosome. People with Down’s syndrome are not sick and do not “suffer” from their condition.

MYTH: “People with Down’s syndrome cannot learn or go to school”

While it is true that all people with the syndrome will have varying degrees of learning difficulty, the degree can vary widely. Most people with Down’s syndrome will walk and talk, and many will read and write, attend regular schools, and lead full, independent lives.

MYTH: “People with Down’s syndrome don’t live very long”

Today, people with Down syndrome can expect a long life of over 60 years.

MYTH: “Only older mothers have babies with Down’s syndrome”

Although older mothers have a higher individual risk of having a baby with Down’s syndrome, statistically more babies with Down’s syndrome are born to younger mothers, reflecting the higher birth rate in this group.

MYTH: “People with Down syndrome cannot achieve normal life goals”

With the right support, they can. Most people with Down syndrome learn to walk and talk, and many now attend mainstream schools, pass GCSE, and lead semi-independent, full adult lives.

MYTH: “People with Down’s Syndrome all look the same”

Certain physical characteristics may appear. People with Down syndrome may have all or none of them. A person with Down’s syndrome will always look more like their immediate family than another person with the disease.


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