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World Down Syndrome Day is observed on 21 March each year in order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome. The day is celebrated since 2012 with the recommendation of United Nations General Assembly.

The date for WDSD, 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 gets its name from the British doctor, John Langdon Down, who first clinically identified the condition in 1866. The estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide.

For WDSD 2018, the focus is on: #WhatIBringToMyCommunity.

This signifies how people with Down syndrome can make meaningful contributions throughout their lives, whether in schools, workplaces, living in the community, public and political life, culture, media, recreation, leisure and sport. All people with Down syndrome must have opportunities to contribute to the community and live valued lives.

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of third copy of chromosome-21. Most people have 46 chromosomes in all of their cells, but in people with Down syndrome they have 47 chromosomes and because of that they look differently and learn differently.

Characteristics in Individuals with Down syndrome:

Individuals with Down syndrome have varying degree of cognitive delays from very mild to severe, decreased muscle tone, small nose and flat nasal bridge, eyes slanting up, irregular shaped ears, ability to extend joints beyond the usual, large space between the big toe and its neighbouring toe, large tongue relative to the mouth. Children with Down syndrome can be affected by various defects such as congenital heart diseases, hearing loss, eye problems.

Down syndrome occurs in people of all race and economic status. A child with Down syndrome can be born to a mother at any age, although the risk of Down syndrome increases with age of mother. A 35 year old woman has about one in 350 chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome and chance increases to1 in 100 by age of 40.

Health care of individuals with Down syndrome:

Due to advances in medical technology, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. The quality of life of person with Down syndrome can be improved by providing their various health care needs, which include:

  • Regular check-ups by health professionals to monitor mental and physical growth and to provide timely interventions in the form of physiotherapy, counselling or special education.
  • Guidance to parents and community to provide optimal quality of life through parental care and support, medical guidance and community based support systems like special schools. This facilitates their participation in mainstream society and the fulfillment of their personal potential.

Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK):

RBSK is an important initiative under National Health Mission aiming at early identification and early intervention for children from birth to 18 years to diagnose 4 ‘D’s -Defects at birth, Deficiencies, Diseases, Development delays including disability. Child health screening and early intervention services envisages to cover 30 selected health conditions(Down syndrome is one of them) for screening, early detection and free management.