What is Down syndrome?
Each cell in the human body includes a nucleus which stores our genes. Our genes are responsible for our individual and inherited traits (i.e. our appearance, skills, personality traits etc). These genes are grouped together in our chromosomes.
In people who don’t have Down syndrome, the nucleus contains 23 pairs of chromosomes – half coming from the father, half from the mother. People who have Down syndrome have a full or partial extra copy of Chromosome 21. This is called Trisomy 21.
This additional piece of genetic material causes certain characteristics that are associated with Down syndrome. These can include an upward slant in the eyes, low muscle tone, smaller than average stature and a single crease along the centre of the palm. That said, some people with Down syndrome may not have all, or any, of these symptoms.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that each person with Down syndrome is an individual - just like people who don’t have Down syndrome – and should be treated as such!