Answers to the 8 Most Common Questions About Down Syndrome

Updated: Oct 28

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month which means that you're going to be hearing and seeing a lot about Down Syndrome.

I couldn't be more excited because Down Syndrome Awareness gives individuals the voice they deserve when it comes to understanding and inclusion.

If I were to ask you what you know about Down Syndrome, what would you say? Most people know that Down Syndrome has something to do with an extra chromosome and that people "suffering" from Down Syndrome may be mentally disabled but what do you (really) know about Down Syndrome?

Here are answers to the 8 most common questions that people ask about Down Syndrome.

1. What Causes Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is caused by an error in cell division called nondisjunction. This means that prior to conception a pair of chromosome 21 in either the egg or the sperm fail to separate.

When an egg and sperm come together in conception, the fertilized egg now has three chromosomes (usually 2 from the egg and 1 from the sperm).

Trisomy 21 caused by nondisjunction is the most common form of Down Syndrome accounting for approximately 95% of all cases of Down Syndrome.

There are other forms of Down Syndrome namely, translocation Down Syndrome and Mosaicism. Translocation Down Syndrome results from a part of chromosome 21 breaking off and attaching to another chromosome, like chromosome 14.

Mosaic Down Syndrome occurs when some of the cells have an extra chromosome and some don't. Mosaic Down Syndrome is the rarest form of DS, resulting in approximately 1% of all cases of DS.

2. Is there a cure for Down Syndrome?

At this time, there is no known cure for DS.

Since Down Syndrome is genetic, there is no way that modern medicine can remove or "turn off" the extra copy of the 21st chromosome.

That's not to say that there is no treatment for some of the effects of Down Syndrome.

Chromosomes contain genes. Genes contain DNA which is the information our body needs to make proteins and build cells. Your DNA determines your hair and eye color, your skin color and facial features and many other features you have that make you, well you.

Just because genes are unchanging in themselves that doesn't mean that we have no power over the way genes create proteins or how we manage the body's overproduction of proteins made by genes. Essentially, Down Syndrome is a complex condition involving the over-expression of many genes and the possible under-expression of some.

While it may seem that there is nothing that can be down to mitigate these "out of control" genes, that's definitely not the case! For example, people with DS tend to be folate deficient due to the over-expression of the CBS gene. Folate deficiency is linked to intellectual disability.

Giving your child folate will help prevent this deficiency and improve his cognition.

When working with your naturopathic physician, you can develop an individualized plan that will address your child's specific needs like diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, that can help your child thrive.