Like other causes of mental retardation, Down Syndrome is often misunderstood by people who don't know anybody who is affected. This misunderstanding results in a lot of fear and prejudice about mental retardation in general and Down Syndrome in particular. Most parents who are told that their unborn child has Down Syndrome choose to abort out of this fear. But contrary to popular belief, people with Down Syndrome are -- people! They don't have any more in common with each other than people with diabetes, or people with red hair, or people with high cholesterol. Although there are specific traits and symptoms associated with Down Syndrome, those traits do not define who the person is -- they simply describe a syndrome he or she has. People with Down Syndrome are not "drooling vegetables," or condemned to misery, or doomed to institutionalization.
The underlying cause of Down Syndrome, an extra twenty-first chromosome, was discovered by Dr. Jerome Lejeune, a French geneticist. Lejeune developed a deep and abiding love of his patients with Down Syndrome, and worked to the end of his life to discover ways to prevent the mental retardation associated with Down Syndrome. The most exciting discovery Lejeune made was that the retardation associated with Down Syndrome might be caused by a metabolic imbalance rather than the chromosomal abnormality itself. This means that Down Syndrome retardation might some day be preventable with diet therapy, the way we now prevent the retardation once associated with PKU.
The name "Down Syndrome" refers to the name of the doctor who first described the syndrome, Dr. John Langdon Down. Some people want to start referring to the syndrome by another term, such as "Trisomy 21," because the name "Down" is associated with negative things, like depression or oppression. One woman with Down Syndrome speaks of "Up Syndrome" to capture her joy for life.
Celebrate the Child
Band of Angels
Celebrating the lives of children with Down Syndrome, with focus on encouragement and hope.
Diagnosis Down Syndrome
Encouragement for parents learning that their child has Down Syndrome. Main page is also a Brag Book for parents of children with Down Syndrome.
About.com Special Needs Parenting Guide Jody Swarbrick brings you excellent links for parents of children with Down Syndrome.
Down Syndrome: For New Parents
A beautiful and informative site, very well organized.
Syndrome Research Foundation
Lots of links to the latest in Down Syndrome research. A UK site.
The Jerome Lejeune Foundation, a French language site devoted to carrying on Dr. Lejeune's work to treat, rather than abort, children with genetic abnormalities.
Am an Artist"
Article on the Painter Michael Jurogue Johnson, a man with Down Syndrome who discovered the aritst within.
Syndrome Organizations List
Brought to you by Down Syndrome: Understanding the Gift of Life.
Jon Will's Aptitudes
George Will reflects on his son, a young man with Down Syndrome.
A London clinic carrying on Dr. Jerome Lejeune's pioneering work with children with Down Syncrome.
Far more links than it's practical to bring you on a Pro Life site. I especially encourage you to visit the individuals' pages and get to know what people with Down Syndrome are like.
National Association for Down Syndrome
Promoting understanding and acceptance of people with Down Syndrome.
Highly technical review of tests, accuracy, risks, and responses to test results.
Trisomy 21 Research Foundation
Nutritional and other research on improving the lives of people with Down Syndrome.
For more information on congenital conditions:
Give us your input about providing options other than abortion to parents facing prenatal diagnoses at the Forum.