March 21 marks the World’s Down Syndrome day — a day, on which people diagnosed with Down syndrome and those who work with them throughout the world organise and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness about the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder, which occurs naturally due to chromosomal arrangement in human body. Each cell in our body has a nucleus, which typically contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. The syndrome leads to mental retardation and abnormal physical growth in children who survives for longer period. The disease often causes congenital heart diseases in children, which can be treated with surgery.
How common is Down syndrome ?
Down syndrome is pretty common in every part of the world. In US about 6,000 babies are born every year with Down syndrome. Whereas, in India the number is an alarming 23,000 to 29,000, which is the highest in the world. Those who are diagnosed with congenital heart diseases, they survival rate is only 44 per cent.
How is it impacting our society?
Patients with Down syndrome are now being increasingly integrated into society. They now go to schools, colleges and even join the workforce; they also take part in social and recreational activities. With the advancement of modern clinical treatments and corrective heart surgeries in the western world, life expectancy of people with Down syndrome is increasing there. The first year survival rate is around 70 per cent. Whereas, in India, the scenario is quite opposite with a survival rate of merely 44 per cent.
When did it start?
The French Association of Research on Trisomy 21 (AFRT), was created in 1990 for supporting research and information on medical and scientific advances in the field of Down syndrome (trisomy 21). This association selected the date of March 21 as a symbolic date for the Day of Trisomy 21. It was in March 2016, this International day of trisomy 21 was first observed. Since then, AFRT organises a meeting every year on this date. In 2007, WHO recognised March 21 as the World Down Syndrome Day. The UN general assembly also recognised the same date in 2011.