October 17, 2016
Knowledge and understanding of Down syndrome has come a long way. The first confirmed case of the disorder was found in a person who lived about 1,500 years ago and it wasn’t accurately identified until 1866.
Despite all we know about its causes, risk factors, and the wonderful people who live full lives with it, many myths still surround Down syndrome. Here are a few of those myths and the facts that bust them:
Fiction: Life with Down syndrome is sad
People with Down syndrome can live full, productive, and happy lives. Parents of children with Down syndrome often hear phrases like, “I’m so sorry,” and “That must be awful.” While most people are well-meaning, this is one of the worst things to say to such a parent. While life may look different for a family in which someone has Down syndrome, it is still a life worthy of celebration and happiness – not sympathy and sorrow.
Fiction: Down syndrome is always hereditary
Only 1% of Down syndrome cases are hereditary. Other risk factors include advanced maternal age and already having a child with Down syndrome.
Fiction: People with Down syndrome have a very low life expectancy
Although that was true in 1983, when people with Down syndrome could expect to live to 25, it is no longer true. Today, people with Down syndrome can live full lives into their sixties.
Fiction: Down syndrome is rare
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, “One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.” (http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/What-Is-Down-Syndrome/ ) That means that each year, 6,000 babies are born in the United States with Down syndrome.
Fiction: All people with Down syndrome are the same
While people with Down syndrome may share some physical and intellectual characteristics, they are as unique as anyone else. They experience the full range of human emotion – from sad to happy, from scared to excited.
Down Syndrome Awareness Month
This October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Share these facts, bust the myths, and spread awareness. Together, we can help create a happy, informed world for all people with Down syndrome.