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Down syndrome and mental impairment


An error in cell division may results into varied chromosomal defects depending on the error in cell division.

Among the chromosomal defects, Down syndrome is a common condition.

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Down syndrome society of Kenya, a week ago held celebrations at Nairobi National Park to celebrate people living with Down syndrome in the country.


The non-governmental organization, Down Syndrome of Kenya, bring together people with the condition, parents and guardians.

Down syndrome also known as Ds is not an illness. It is a genetic condition brought about by an error in cell division where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46.

It is characterized by mental and developmental impairments.

Every year on March 21, World Down Syndrome day is celebrated with the aim of alerting people about the defect.

It was established by the United Nations in 2011 and first celebrated globally in March 2012.

Slow growth

At birth, children with Down syndrome have normal birth weight. However, they tend to have slow growth. The child may take long to crawl, walk and even sit.

Also, such children will take long before fully learning basic skills like how to dress up or even go to toilet on their own.

This can be linked to intellectual disability. Here the child will be slow to think, reason, understand and retain newly acquired skills.

Those with Ds tends to have a tongue that sticks out of the mouth. The problem tends to enhance speech delay or even struggle in communication.

Ds victims, therefore, needs to be given intensive care and attention in their daily doings so as to offer them support that will help them improve their routine.

At learning institutions, they also need to be handled in special schools where they will be taught how to read and write.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Down syndromes incidence in the world is 1 in every 1000 birth lives.

WHO further states that about 3000 to 5000 children are born with this chromosome defect.

In addition, 60 – 80 percent of the children with the syndrome have hearing problems with about 40 – 45 percent having congenital heart disease.

Down syndrome can be identified in a child even before birth. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to control or evade this state once discovered.

Spouse should accept and prepare to raise the child with the condition once a mother gives birth.

By Joseh Macharia

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