World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), March 21st, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
Down Syndrome International (DSi) encourages our friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events on WDSD to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
A few FAQ’s about Down syndrome*
- Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three copies of the 21st chromosome, rather than two.
- One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
- There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
- Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
- The extra chromosome occurs by chance.
- People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
- A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.
- It is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who fully described the syndrome in 1866. In 1959, the genetic cause of Down syndrome, an extra copy of chromosome 21, was discovered.
Including children with Down syndrome as part of your play groups, social events, and special occasions enables awareness, tolerance, and acceptance from neuro-typical children for others with intellectual, physical, and emotional differences. These same children can often be wonderful role models of both verbal expression and social skills, making it a rich learning experience for both individuals. Regardless of the mutual learning benefits, children love to play and it’s a wonderful way of fostering and building lifelong friendships.
*Down Syndrome Association of St. Louis