Down Syndrome Awareness: Dispel the Misconceptions

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day to symbolize the third copy of the 21st chromosome in people with Down syndrome. Due to trisomy 21, Down syndrome is present in 1 in 792 live births and associated with a variety of medical and developmental concerns including congenital heart disease, thyroid disease and sleep apnea. World Down Syndrome Day is a good opportunity to celebrate the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

Through Your Language

The words we use matter and set the tone for interactions with families and individuals with Down syndrome. Take the extra time to describe a baby as an ‘infant with Down syndrome’ and to use “Down syndrome” rather than “Down’s.” Families and individuals with Down syndrome appreciate this and it shows respect for the individual. Patient-first language shows that a medical condition or genetic syndrome does not define the patient and shows it is simply one aspect of who they are.

At Work

Businesses employ adults with Down syndrome for a variety of positions – in banks, corporations, hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, offices and restaurants. They work in the music and entertainment industry, in clerical positions, childcare, the sports field and the computer industry, to name a few. Like anybody else, people with Down syndrome want to have a job where their work will be valued.

On Social Media

Social media is a great way to get the word out! Here are some ideas for World Down Syndrome Day posts from the National Down Syndrome Society:

  • Down syndrome facts are great to share with your followers and encourage them to share as well. Did you know that adults with Down syndrome now have a life expectancy of 60? Did you know that Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition?
  • If you cringe when people use the “R-word,” share a link to our preferred language guide and help educate your friends and family on the proper terms to use.

At an Event

The National Down Syndrome Society, the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, hosts multiple events celebrating individuals with Down syndrome around the globe.

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO) is also hosting events for World Down syndrome Day.

For more information on Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Down Syndrome Clinic, click here.

Stephanie Santoro, MD
Stephanie Santoro has been a pediatrician and clinical geneticist at Nationwide Children's Hospital since 2014. She a member of the governing board and creator and chair of the medical advisory committee for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO). She enjoys running and spending time with her husband and two children.

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