What Do March 21 and Down Syndrome Have In Common?

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on March 21. On this day, people with Down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion, and well being of people with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome (DS) or Down’s syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans. It is typically associated with a delay in cognitive ability and physical growth and a particular set of facial characteristics. 

Down syndrome is named after John Langdon Down (November 18, 1828 – October 7, 1896), a British physician who described the syndrome in 1866. The condition was first clinically described earlier by Jean Etienne Dominique Esquirol in 1838 and then Edouard Seguin in 1844. Down syndrome was identified as a chromosome 21 trisomy by Dr. Jérôme Lejeune in 1959.

July 2011 Dani
Meet Dani. She attends Berkshire Elementary School.

Down syndrome can be identified in a baby at birth or before birth by prenatal screening. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome.

Many children with Down syndrome graduate from high school and can do paid work with some participating in post-secondary education as well. Education and proper care has been shown to improve quality of life significantly.

The date for World Down Syndrome Day or WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. The original idea was proposed by members of the European Down Syndrome Association and Down Syndrome International.

Nathan buddy walk
This is Nathan! He is sporting his Buddy Walk t-shirt!

WDSD was first observed in 2006 in many countries around the world. Down Syndrome Association Singapore launched and hosted the World Down Syndrome Day website from 2006-2010 on behalf of Down Syndrome International for global activities to be recorded.

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day. The General Assembly decided to “designate March 21”as World Down Syndrome Day to be observed every year beginning in 2012.

“On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.”

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said on March 21, 2012, “On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.”

A good friend of mine, Maria Dellepina, started a company called Specs 4 Us located in Burton and specializes in making glasses for children with Down syndrome. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, Maria sent this to me to share with all of you.

Erin Dellepina Down Right Perfect Photo

Who knows why Down syndrome occurs? Why does the extra 21st chromosome stick to the cell when the fertilized egg begins its first cell division? It can be compared to what happens in nature to a field of clover. Usually, we see 3 leaves on each clover. Once in a while, however, we find a clover that has an extra leaf, making it a four-leaf clover. We don’t know why Mother Nature decided to add that extra leaf; she just did. There is no obvious explanation; all of the clover plants grew in the same soil and were exposed to the same sun and rain, etc. Mother Nature just decided to add an extra leaf to one of the clover in the clover patch. This doesn’t make it better or not as good as the other clover…it just makes it different. Some people even believe it brings a person good luck when they find a four-leaf clover. It is much the same way with the extra chromosome. We don’t know why Mother Nature didn’t let the cell divide evenly, but she didn’t. She decided to add another chromosome to that baby’s cells. It doesn’t make the baby better or not as good as the other babies; it just makes him or her different. And if you find one of those babies, you are truly lucky, for they are very special babies who grow into very special people.

Author ~ Unknown

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News