March 21 (3/21) is World Down Syndrome Day. This date was not chosen at random. Rather, it represents the fact that, while most people have 46 pairs of chromosomes, some people have a third copy on the twenty-first chromosome. This third copy causes Down Syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21.
Some other facts:
- It’s not “Down’s Syndrome,” i.e., a syndrome in the possession of someone named Down.
- People with Down Syndrome can read, write, hold down jobs, get married, and even go to college.
- Pregnancies in which Down Syndrome is identified in the fetus are terminated 80-90% of the time.
- Down Syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the U.S., occurring in about 1 in 700 live births.
- There is a condition called Mosaic Down Syndrome in which some cells, but not all, contain a third copy of the twenty-first chromosome.
- If you are still using the term “retarded” as a term of derogation, you should stop doing this. People might start to think you are a jerk. And they might be right.
My wife and I will be talking about our experiences of raising a child with Down Syndrome at United’s Light the Fire! Conference, May 8-9 at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. World Down Syndrome is the last day to register at the discounted rate, so please get your registration in ASAP!