World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day is an annual event that promotes awareness and supports patients who have the related congenital disorder. Observed on March 21st, this holiday is marked by conferences, educational events and supportive activities in over 60 countries. This disorder affects approximately one in every person born across the world, which is why advocacy is so wide-ranging.

Down Syndrome Facts

Down syndrome is a congenital disorder, which means it is formed before birth. It is caused by a person having an additional 21st chromosome. While most people have 46 chromosomes total, a person with Down syndrome has 47. Subsequently, the additional chromosome causes difficulties in brain development, and some babies are born with physical abnormalities as well.

The severity of Down syndrome varies between individuals. No matter what the severity, this disorder can make everyday activities difficult for patients, and loved ones often have a trying time coping. There is no cure for Down syndrome, although medications and therapies can help.

History

Knowledge is the key to Down syndrome, especially since there is no exact cause or cure known for the disorder. It is just as important for the public to be aware of the medical condition just as it is for families to learn how to help their kids when they are diagnosed with Down syndrome. Coping and treatment is more successful with the help of others.

World Down Syndrome Day was first established in 2006 by Down Syndrome International. This worldwide organization as well as smaller national groups designated the 21st day of March to represent the additional 21st chromosome, which is also called Trisomy 21. On this day, related organizations advocate for activities for those affected by the disorder, as well as increased awareness for the diagnosis and treatment of Down syndrome worldwide.

The United Nations picked up on this day and declared it a holiday by a vote in 2011. March 21, 2012 marked the first official United Nations-sponsored World Down Syndrome Day. This international agency hopes to increase participation in this holiday by governments, charities and businesses every year.

Celebrations

World Down Syndrome Day is a peaceful holiday. Activities are planned for patients and their loved ones to help provide a sense of community. Oftentimes, parents with children of special needs often feel isolated due to social misconceptions and financial constraints. The events that take place on World Down Syndrome Day help to lend a hand to those who need support. Participants often wear wristbands with the words “Down syndrome.”

Increased awareness through events is also a major part of World Down Syndrome Day. The biggest event is the World Down Syndrome Day Conference, which takes place every year at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The 2013 theme is “Right to Work,” which will focus on helping patients with Down syndrome find employment so they can become financially independent while contributing to their societies. At the same time, the Conference will advocate early education and treatment in order to provide the best life possible for all patients with the congenital disorder. Registration to this event is free to the public.

The United Nations also strives to clear up social and cultural misconceptions associated with Down syndrome. Since the chromosome disorder has no defining cause, it can happen to anyone. Down syndrome is not exclusive to any gender, race, or ethnicity, and it is prevalent among the rich and the poor just the same. Early testing during pregnancy can help detect Down syndrome to help parents prepare for treatment after birth.

By: Kristeen Moore


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