Most people probably know Trisomy 21 by a more popular name: Down syndrome. It is the most common birth defect in the United States and was first described back in 1866. It wasn’t until 1959, however, that the cause of Down syndrome would be discovered.
Facts About Trisomy 21
1. 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35 years.
2. The chances of a mother at the age of 20 having a child with Down syndrome: 1 in 1,600. At the age of 45: 1 in 30.
3. Couples who have had one child with Trisomy 21 have a 1% increased risk of having a second child with the birth defect.
4. In the United States, Down syndrome occurs in 1 of every 800 infants. An estimated 6,000 children in the US are born with Trisomy 21 every year.
5. It is estimated that about 15% of infants with Down syndrome will not survive to see their first birthday.
6. 50% of those children who are born with Down syndrome will live longer than 50 years..
7. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, there are more than 350,000 people living with Down syndrome right now in the United States.
8. More than 90 % of Down syndrome cases are caused by Trisomy 21.
9. Mosaic Trisomy 21 is the rarest form of this birth defect, occurring in fewer than 2% of all cases.
10. Transaction Trisomy 21 occurs in 3-4% of all Down syndrome cases and occurs when chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome at conception.
11. As few as 15% of the women who are born with Trisomy 21 are able to have children themselves. There is a 1 in 2 chance that a mother with Down syndrome will also have a child that has the birth defect.
12. More than 99% of men with Trisomy 21 are diagnosed with infertility.
13. 3 out of 4 people born with Trisomy 21 will experience some form of hearing loss.
14. 50-70% of people with Trisomy 21 will suffer from regular ear infections.
15. Half of all children born with this birth defect will also have some sort of heart defect that is present at birth.
16. 60% of those with Trisomy 21 will have some form of an eye disease or disorder, such as a cataract, that requires them to wear glasses.
17. The percentage of people with Trisomy 21 who have hyperflexibility in their joints: 80%.
18. The classic flat facial profile of Down syndrome occurs in 9 out of 10 instances of this birth defect.
19. Molecular genetic studies reveal that 95 percent of occurrences of trisomy 21 result from nondisjunction during meiotic division of the primary oocyte.
20. Early Alzheimer’s disease affects 75% of the Trisomy 21 population by the age of 60.
21. More than 95% of children will experience growth and intelligence deficiencies when Trisomy 21 is present.
This birth defect can be caused by one of three different genetic variations that occur on chromosome 21. The most common is Trisomy 21, but Mosaic Trisomy and Translocation Trisomy are also possibilities. Because this birth defect occurs when chromosomes divide, there is a direct correlation to the age of the mother and an increased risk of Trisomy 21. A screening test will help to identify the possibility of this birth defect.
There Is No Medical Cure For Down Syndrome
Although there may be no cure for Trisomy 21, there are many effective treatments that can improve a person’s quality of life. Thanks to therapies, early learning interventions, and vocational options, many people with even medium to severe Down syndrome have the ability to lead happy, productive lives. There can be very mild cases with very few physical or mental indications of this birth defect or it may be severe and require a lifetime of care-giving.
For parents expecting a child with Down syndrome, it is important to create a support network immediately. This will give families access to the resources that they may need in order to create a happy, healthy life for their child while dealing with some of the stresses that society may place upon them.
It can be difficult to have a child born with Trisomy 21, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. With counseling and interventions, many children have gone on to life what society would consider to be a normal life. There may not be a cure, but ask any family with a child who has Trisomy 21 and they’ll tell you that one might not be needed.