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What is Down syndrome?


Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material affects the way a person's body and brain develop, leading to certain physical and intellectual characteristics. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who first described the syndrome in 1866.

Individuals with Down syndrome typically exhibit physical features such as almond-shaped eyes, a single crease across the palm, and a flattened facial profile. These characteristics can vary widely, and it's important to note that individuals with Down syndrome are unique individuals with their own distinct personalities, talents, and abilities.

One of the most common forms of Down syndrome is Trisomy 21, where there is an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of the body. However, there are other variations, such as Mosaic Down syndrome, where the extra chromosome is present in only some cells. Additionally, Translocation Down syndrome occurs when part of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome

1 in every 700 babies are born with Down Syndrome a year

There are three types of Down Syndrome: Trisomy 21, Translocation, and Mosaic

About 95% of people with Down syndrome have Trisomy 21, three copies of chromosome 21

A Friend Like Anian by Meeka Caldwell
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How can you support?

GiGi's Playhouse: GiGi's Playhouse is a prominent Down syndrome resource, offering free educational and therapeutic programs for individuals with Down syndrome. This network of achievement centers is a valuable hub for families seeking support, education, and community engagement. To support or donate, visit their official website. 

Marathon in the City

The BDSA (Black Down syndrome Association) Family Support group is an online community for Black parents/legal guardians of Black persons with Down Syndrome. They aim to help new and existing parents have a safe space to talk about their experience, give advice, and offer support.

The Parents of Children with Down syndrome (PODS) of Prince George’s County is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide support and resources for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. PODS seeks to provide the community and surrounding areas with information and education to broaden awareness and foster positive attitudes regarding people with Down syndrome.

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Image by John Cameron

National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS): The NDSS is a leading advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. They offer educational resources, support programs, and engage in legislative advocacy. To contribute or learn more, visit the NDSS website.

Buddy Walk: The Buddy Walk is a nationwide event organized by the National Down Syndrome Society to raise awareness and funds for Down syndrome support and advocacy. Participate in a local Buddy Walk or donate to the cause on their official website.

Image by Brett Jordan
Image by Susan Q Yin

At DSAIA, we strive to support and advance the growth and capacity of local and regional Down syndrome associations.  We provide the connections, the inspiration, training, and resources so that our members can meet the needs of individuals with Down syndrome in their communities.  Our members are leaders in every sense of the word.  

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