Each year, October is designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, designed to give education and empowerment to those living with Down syndrome, those who love someone living with Down syndrome, and everyone else. Education brings about empathy and understanding, something we are committed to here at O’Brien Law. Here are just a few facts about Down syndrome everyone should know.

What is it?
Down syndrome (not Down’s Syndrome) is a genetic condition that is caused by an additional chromosome. Everyone living with Down syndrome has 47 chromosomes instead of 46, with a third 21st chromosome.

How does someone get Down syndrome?
Down syndrome occurs in 1 in every 792 live births, as per the National Association for Down Syndrome. It isn’t caused by factors like race, gender, or socioeconomic status. No one is sure how it happens, but it is not the fault of the mother or of prenatal care.

Is it true your child will get Down syndrome if you get pregnant later in life?
This is a common misconception. However, 80% of children born with Down syndrome are born to mothers under the age of 35.

How is Down syndrome diagnosed?
In most cases, Down syndrome is detected while the baby is still in the womb. Genetic testing and ultrasounds often lead physicians to notice the hallmarks of the condition. However, some babies are not diagnosed until after being born.

How can I support the parents of a newborn with Down syndrome?
You can begin to support your friends the same way you would support them if their newborn did not have Down syndrome. Visit the hospital. Bring a stuffed animal. Drop off dinner, dessert, and a cute newborn onesie. Be a listening ear, an encourager, an expert newborn rocker.

Where can I learn more?
You can discover more about Down syndrome from the National Association for Down Syndrome, as well as parenting blogs like Kelle Hampton’s blog, and advocacy sites like Ruby’s Rainbow.