Although cats don’t have the same chromosomal makeup as humans, it is possible for them to have a condition similar to Down syndrome. This condition, known as feline Down syndrome, is marked by physical and behavioral abnormalities.
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What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a condition caused by an error in cell division called meiotic nondisjunction. This results in an extra copy of chromosome 21, which is why it is also called trisomy 21. The physical features and medical problems associated with Down syndrome vary from person to person, but people with Down syndrome usually have some degree of intellectual disability and some characteristic physical features.
What are the symptoms of Down Syndrome?
There are a variety of symptoms that are associated with Down syndrome. These symptoms can vary in severity from person to person. The most common symptom is adelay in intellectual and physical development. This can be mild or severe. Other symptoms may include:
What causes Down Syndrome?
There are three types of Down Syndrome, each caused by a different problem with the chromosomes.
Down Syndrome is caused when there is an error in cell division. This results in an extra copy of chromosome 21, or trisomy 21. This is the most common type of Down syndrome, accounting for 95% of cases.
Mosaic Down Syndrome happens when cell division goes wrong in just some of the cells, rather than all of them. This means that some cells have the usual 2 copies of chromosome 21, while other cells have 3 copies.
Translocation Down Syndrome happens when part of chromosome 21 breaks off during cell division and joins another chromosome. The resulting cell has the usual 2 copies of chromosome 21, plus an extra piece of chromosome 21 attached to another chromosome.
How is Down Syndrome diagnosed?
There is no single exam or test that can diagnose Down syndrome. Doctors look at the total clinical picture along with the baby’s appearance. The doctor also obtains a detailed health and family history from the parents.
Most babies with Down syndrome can be diagnosed before birth through prenatal screening and diagnostic tests. These tests are optional, and the decision about whether to have them is a personal one.
What are the treatments for Down Syndrome?
There is no one specific treatment for Down syndrome and often, a range of therapies and support services are required. These may include:
Early intervention programs: These programs aim to stimulate your child’s learning and development. They can be delivered in the home, hospital or community setting, and usually involve occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.
Special education: Children with Down syndrome often require specialized teaching methods and materials. Many children will attend a regular school with support from a special needs teacher.
Speech therapy: Speech therapy can help children with Down syndrome to improve their speech clarity and develop better communication skills.
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help children with Down syndrome to improve their fine motor skills (such as handwriting) and develop better everyday living skills (such as dressing themselves).
Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy can help children with Down syndrome to improve their gross motor skills (such as walking) and increase their muscle strength.
What is the prognosis for people with Down Syndrome?
Although the average life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome has increased dramatically in recent years, it is still lower than that of the general population. The vast majority of people with Down Syndrome live into their sixties, although some may live into their seventies or eighties.
How can I prevent my child from getting Down Syndrome?
There is no certain way to prevent Down Syndrome, as it is a genetic condition. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your child’s risk.
Some couples may choose to undergo genetic counseling before they conceive, in order to learn more about their risks. If you or your partner have a family history of Down Syndrome, you may be more likely to have a child with the condition. You can talk to your doctor about your particular risks.
During pregnancy, you can have screenings done to check for Down Syndrome. These screenings are not diagnostic, but they can give you an idea of whether or not your child is at increased risk. If the screening tests show that your child may have a higher risk, you can then choose to have a diagnostic test, such as amniocentesis, which can confirm whether or not the baby has Down Syndrome.
What research is being done on Down Syndrome?
There is currently no cure for Down syndrome, but there are treatments available to help improve the quality of life for people with the condition. Researchers are working hard to find new ways to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome, and there are many clinical trials underway.
The Down Syndrome Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital is a leading center for research and care for children with Down syndrome. Our clinics offer comprehensive evaluations and state-of-the-art treatments for children with Down syndrome, from birth through adulthood. We offer a wide range of services, including developmental assessments, genetic counseling, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and more.
We are also home to the world’s largest database of medical information on Down syndrome, which is used by researchers around the world to help identify new ways to treat and support people with Down syndrome.
Where can I find more information on Down Syndrome?
There is currently no known cure for Down Syndrome, however, there are a number of treatments and therapies that can be used to improve the quality of life for people with Down Syndrome. You can find more information on Down Syndrome, as well as support and resources, from the National Down Syndrome Society.
What support is available for people with Down Syndrome?
Although there is currently no cure for Down Syndrome, there is a range of support available for people with the condition and their families. Early intervention programs can help to improve developmental outcomes, and there are also a number of educational resources and support groups available.