World Down Syndrome Day is observed on 21st March each year to celebrate children and adults with Down syndrome and focus on specific issues. In December 2011, the UN General Assembly declared 21st March as World Down Syndrome Day. From 2012 onwards, the General Assembly has been inviting all member states, patient organizations, other UN bodies, civil society and non-governmental organizations to join in support of World Down Syndrome Day. This year is the 13th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day.
- World Down Syndrome Day is marked on 21 March each year to celebrate children and adults with Downs and focus on specific issues
- This day is marked to consider various issues that affect the Down syndrome community and raise awareness on various aspects like inclusion, access and equal opportunity
- This year the theme in focus is “What I Bring to My Community” to raise the issue of inclusion and opportunities for all people with Down syndrome to work and contribute to society.
- World Down Syndrome day is a public platform to bring together all stakeholders including people with Down syndrome, parents, families, clinicians, researchers, not-for-profits and communities to raise awareness about the condition and sensitize all sections of society. It is necessary for communities to understand that children and adults with Down syndrome need to be treated equal with access and opportunities to thrive. Children and adults with Down syndrome often face stigma and discrimination even in the developed world. Sensitizing communities and raising public awareness is a must to minimize the stigma. Communities need to understand that inclusion is possible and each child or adult can contribute meaningfully to society. There is something everyone can do in our communities.
Theme for 2018
This year the theme for Down Syndrome Day is “What I Bring to My Community.” This is apt considering issues of exclusion and discrimination that the community faces. Children and adults with Down syndrome should be valued for whatever they can contribute. All societies must work towards inclusion and access for Down syndrome communities. Every individual must be able to access educational opportunities to develop skills and competencies. Young adults and adults with Down syndrome have shown how they can participate actively in society. There are people running their own bakeries and cafes who have paved the way forward. For example, Carolyn Sampson who runs a gluten-free bakery called Reason to Bake in North Carolina. Carolyn’s fresh gluten-free cookies which come in flavours like spicy ginger, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin are sold in 13 retail outlets in North Carolina. People with Down syndrome need to be supported by society to find their interests and passions and live meaningful lives.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder occurring when an individual has an extra copy of chromosome 21. The additional chromosome interferes with normal physical and mental development leading to characteristics associated with Down syndrome. Some of the features occurring in individuals with Down syndrome include:
- short stature
- low muscle tone
- upward slant in the eyes
Down syndrome is one of the most common developmental disorders and according to the Justifys for Disease Control and Prevention; one in every 800 babies is born with this syndrome globally. In India, there is an incidence of nearly 32,000 Down syndrome births each year. The most common type of Down syndrome is Trisomy 21. The lesser common types are Mosaicism and Translocation. There is no clear scientific evidence and research on the exact cause of Down syndrome. Maternal age is currently the only factor linked to the birth of a Down syndrome child. A woman 35 and above has one in 350 chance of a Down syndrome baby while a woman 45 and above has one in 100 chance. Genetic counselling is necessary for all pregnant mothers to ascertain these risks. Down syndrome is usually diagnosed either through prenatal tests or at birth when the baby carries certain features.