Busting Myths About Down Syndrome
This myth perhaps comes from the fact that most people with Down Syndrome have mongoloid features with almond-shaped eyes. However, while they do share a certain superficial likeness because of this, they are more likely to look like their family members than each other
Down Syndrome (DS) is one of the most common cognitive disorders worldwide, affecting one in 1000-1100 live births, according to the World Health Organisation. Yet, there are still many myths attached to DS that can impact people’s ability to seek help or care for children with DS. It also further propagates misconceptions that can add to the natural feelings of anxiousness or fear among parents.
Only older women have babies with DS
Many people are under the misconception that only women of advanced maternal age can have babies with DS. There is some truth behind this myth since the risk of a fetus developing DS increases with the age of the mother. However, every woman is at risk of giving birth to a child with a chromosomal abnormality, this risk increases with the increasing age. In fact, 80 per cent of children with DS are born to women who are less than 35 years of age.
People with DS can't be independent
It is important to understand that not all individuals with DS have a severe cognitive disability. With proper care, stimulation and medical care from their childhood, some people with DS can go on to lead an independent and fruitful life. With a better understanding of DS today, people have more ready access to support groups and care from educators, medical professionals and other care givers. DS individuals have gone on to attain physical and financial independence with gainful employment.
Individuals with DS die young
While people with DS are at risk of developing various chronic conditions, including heart defects, obesity, spinal problems and immune disorders, their lifespan can be as long as the average person, depending on the severity of their condition and the care they receive from their family and medical professionals. The key lies in ensuring proper medical supervision from childhood.
People with DS look the same
This myth perhaps comes from the fact that most people with DS have mongoloid features with almond-shaped eyes. However, while they do share a certain superficial likeness because of this, they are more likely to look like their family members than each other.
Individuals with DS are always happy
Children with DS are often thought to be of a happy disposition at all times. However, they are as susceptible to the emotional range as most people. They can feel upset, angry and depressed when faced with unpleasant or adverse conditions. In fact, one study found that people with DS are exposed to high levels of stressors that can increase their risk of developing depression.
Many of the myths associated with DS can have harmful consequences as these perpetuate the fears associated with the condition. Many of the myths such as homogeneity in appearance or temperament can rob them of their individuality. Breaking these stereotypes can help parents and carers recognise the various options and support structures available to them today. Similarly, recognising the ability of people with DS in attaining financial independence can help motivate parents and carers to work toward this goal. Access to correct information also helps in understanding and overcoming their challenges.