Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material causes the developmental changes and physical features of Down syndrome.

Down syndrome varies in severity among individuals, causing lifelong intellectual disability and developmental delays. It’s the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children. It also commonly causes other medical abnormalities, including heart and gastrointestinal disorders.

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated annually on March 21st. This year Down Syndrome International focuses on the theme “We Decide”: all people with Down Syndrome should have full participation in decision-making about matters relating to, or affecting, their lives. Effective and meaningful participation is a core human rights principle supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Although currently there is global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, we must still take time to recognize these amazing individuals with Down Syndrome, their accomplishments and support the “We Decide” initiative.

Better understanding of Down Syndrome and early interventions can greatly increase the quality of life for children and adults with this disorder and help them live fulfilling lives.