October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Did you know that October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month? There are over 400,000 living with Down Syndrome in the United States. Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome. It wasn’t until June 24th, 2010 that I really learned about Down Syndrome. It was the day after my Molly was born.
With no family history and my pre-natal tests showing there was a very low risk of any problems, we were shocked when doctors informed us that Molly had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Research shows that a healthy 31-year old mother has a 1 in 900 chance of having a child with Down syndrome… and I was chosen as “the one”.
The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions. I’ve thought a lot about what I would say to someone if they were put in this situation. What do you say? How do you acknowledge the situation? Here are a few tips: Congratulate the new parents! After all, they did just have a baby – the birth of a child is exciting and an extra chromosome shouldn’t change anything! If you have a positive story about Down Syndrome, share it! Let them know that you want to help them along on this journey. It’s reassuring to know that they have support of close friends and family. Keep in mind that some moms may not be comfortable talking about the situation, I found it therapeutic. I didn’t want to shy away from the topic and I wanted everyone to learn about Down Syndrome with us.
As a family, we are learning new things about the disorder every day. One of the most important things we have learned is that people diagnosed with Down syndrome go on to lead extremely rewarding lives. We are determined to make sure that Molly does too. If you’d like to research on your own, I encourage you to visit the National Down Syndrome Society’s website (www.ndss.org).
Do you have a personal connection with Down Syndrome? If so, I’d love for you to share it with me.
A former PR pro, Carrie is now a stay at home mom to Maggie (born 11/08) and Molly (born 6/10 with Down Syndrome), a loving husband, a crazy beagle named Penny and Jack the orange cat. To learn more about her adventures as a stay at home mom, go to www.CarrieWithChildren.com or follow her on Twitter at @CarrieWChildren
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