Down syndrome is a condition affecting many Americans and individuals across the world. It presents challenges socially, academically, and behaviorally. However, a diagnosis today is not nearly as detrimental to the person's quality of life as it was decades ago. Strides have been made in Down syndrome awareness, education and overall acceptance. Screening is now available so that parents know in advance if they are going to have a child born with the condition, and resources are available to help educate and prepare them for creating and maintaining a good quality of life for their child. Down syndrome individuals have been known to graduate high school, enter the work force, and even leave home and venture out into the world independently in recent times. Many of these things would not have been possible decades ago. Society accepts the handicapped individual now and aids in acclimating them into our society rather than institutionalizing them as was done in the past. .
Down syndrome is a condition that a person is born with. There is no definite cause for why it happens to certain individuals, only an explanation of what is different inside the body that creates the condition. Encyclopedia Britannica describes how it originates inside the cells of the individual's body and within the nucleus. This is the place where genetic material is stored inside of the genes. Our genes are what make us unique as individuals, carrying the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits. These genes are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes inside of each cell's nucleus. We inherit half of these chromosomes from one parent, and the other half from the other. Sometimes, however, an extra chromosome can be present, creating a chromosomal condition called Down syndrome that occurs when an individual has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.