May 23, 2022

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North West Department of Health observe World Down Syndrome day Featured

North West Health joins the world in raising awareness on World Down Syndrome Day 2022. In December 2011, the General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day

. The General Assembly decided, with effect from 2012, to observe WDS Day on 21 March each year. In order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome, the General Assembly invites all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Down Syndrome Day in an appropriate manner.

Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, being universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines in approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.

Each human cell typically contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. Down syndrome occurs because of changes in the way cells in chromosome 21 divide. Every person with Down syndrome has an extra amount of this chromosome in some or all of their cells.

In the most common type of Down syndrome, trisomy 21, the condition occurs randomly and isn’t inherited. However, when translocation or mosaicism is the cause of Down syndrome, hereditary (passed down among family members) should be looked at as a cause.

Down syndrome causes physical, cognitive (thinking) and behavioral symptoms.

Physical signs of Down syndrome can include:

  • Short, stocky physical size, with a short neck.
  • Poor muscle tone.
  • Flattened facial features, especially the bridge of the nose.
  • Small ears.
  • Almond-shaped eyes that slant upward.
  • Small hands and feet.
  • Single deep crease across the center of the palm of the hand.

Common learning and behavioral symptoms of Down syndrome include:

  • Delays in speech and language development.
  • Attention problems.
  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Stubbornness and tantrums.
  • Delays in cognition.
  • Delayed toilet training.

Not all people with Down syndrome have all these symptoms. Symptoms and their severity are different from person to person.

The quality of life of people with Down syndrome can be improved by meeting their health care needs, including regular check-ups with health professionals to monitor mental and physical condition and to provide timely intervention be it physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counselling or special education. Individuals with Down syndrome can achieve optimal quality of life through parental care and support, medical guidance, and community based support systems such as inclusive education at all levels. This facilitates their participation in mainstream society and the fulfillment of their personal potential.

For Media enquiries:

Tebogo Lekgethwane,

Departmental Spokesperson


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Issued by

North West Department of Health


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