Down Syndrome & Developmental Delays

What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition resulting from the presence of one extra chromosome in some or all of our millions of cells. Our chromosomes are given to us by our parents. At conception, each parent gives us 23 chromosomes (giving us a total of 46 chromosomes). This cell then divides. Every cell in our body contains the identical genetic material.

Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21. This is why you may have heard Down syndrome called “Trisomy 21,” there are three copies instead of two of this chromosome.

Every cell in an individual with Down syndrome will contain 47 chromosomes (with the exception of Mosaic Down syndrome).

Did you know that there are three different types of Down syndrome?
According to the third edition of Susan J. Skallerup’s Babies with Down syndrome, A New Parents’ Guide:

Nondisjunction Trisomy 21 (most common in approximately 95% of cases), Translocation Trisomy 21 (occurs in 4-5% of cases and is caused when a piece of chromosome 21 is located on another chromosome like chromosome 14) and Mosaic Down syndrome (occurs in 1% of cases and is when a person has a mix of cells, some containing 46 chromosomes and some containing 47 chromosomes).

Perhaps you have called children with Down syndrome “Down’s kids.” This expression and language is bothersome because it implies that these children are different than we are.  They are simply children with a condition called Down syndrome and are more like the rest of us than they are different. They simply process information slower than we do and may take a little longer to complete a task.

What can a child with Down syndrome do?
Children with Down syndrome can generally do most things that other children can do. The one difference is: they generally do activities like walking, talking, self-feeding and toilet training later than other kids.

Early intervention programs offered in each state helps each child develop to his or her full potential.

Where did the name “Down syndrome” come from?
Down syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, a British physician who identified the syndrome in 1866.

In the past if your child was born prematurely he or she may have developmental or cognitive delays or even more serious cardiac and pulmonary conditions. In many cases, there wasn’t a lot of hope for the child to thrive.

Thanks to the medical advances, your child has a greater chance for early diagnosis and treatment.Throughout the United States, parents have fought to ensure that many children like yours are receiving occupational, speech/feeding and physical therapy.

Thankfully, there is a brighter future ahead.

Check out Natalie Hale’s Special Reads for Special Needs, an exciting reading series for children with Down syndrome. Many kids are learning how to read before attending school. Log on to

Are you a parent or caretaker of a child with Down syndrome? Learn more through the following associations:

Association for Children with Down Syndrome at

National Down Syndrome Congress at or call 1-800-232-6372.

National Down Syndrome Society at or call 1-800-221-4602.

ARC of Essex County direct service for those with developmental disabilities at or call 1-973-535-1181.

American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at or call 1-202-387-1968 or 1-800-424-3688.

Association for the help of Retarded Children at www.ahrcnyc or call 1-212-780-2500.

SPAN (Statewide Parent Advocacy Network) in Newark, NJ 1-973 642-8100.