I believe so strongly in the power of talking about and educating others on Down syndrome. You can’t fully understand something if you don’t get your questions answered about that subject. And while I love taking in questions about Zach and Down syndrome in general, I also know that there are a lot of things out there that may either be too uncomfortable to ask or you might be worried about hurting feelings or coming across as unknowledgeable asking it. So, I’m here to collect some of those things and share the truth -- the whole truth -- about some frequently-avoided questions about Down syndrome.
1. What causes Down syndrome?
Here’s the tricky thing: There is no known cause for Down syndrome. In all of the research so far, no connection to the parents, environmental factors or anything else has been linked to causing Down syndrome.
2. What are the chances you have a child with Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is the most commonly-occuring genetic condition. Approximately 1 in 700 children are born with Down syndrome each year in the United States. The only slight correlation to Down syndrome occurring is maternal age and even that may be simply because women are having babies at older ages than previously.
3. Will people with Down syndrome have a lower life expectancy than others?
The expected life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome has increased greatly over the years, thanks to research and achievements in science, medicine and technology. In 1910, people with Down syndrome only lived to be 20 or so years old. 100 years later, and the current life expectancy has now reached around 60 years old.
4. All people with Down syndrome have the same level of challenges and difficulties, right?
Nope, not quite. There is a wide range of intellectual and cognitive delays and disabilities for people with Down syndrome.
5. Are people with Down syndrome always so happy and so cute?
Ha, ha! I’d love for you to come hang out with sweet Zach when he’s in a time-out or being especially ornery. Zach -- and all people with Down syndrome -- have the highs and lows of personalities and attitudes just like anyone else. There are temper tantrums in toddlers with DS; there are moments of talking back in youth; there are setbacks and disappointments and as much laughter as there is frustration.
There is a lot more to share and I hope a lot more questions to answer. Knowledge is such tremendous power.