Shriver (2007) defines Down syndrome as that physical condition whereby a person experiences certain physical and mental symptoms as a result of possessing an extra copy of the chromosome 21. He further explains that an ordinary egg which has undergone fertilization has only 23 pairs of chromosomes. A person with this condition has brain and physical impairments due to the presence of this extra chromosome. This means that physical and importantly mental development is significantly slower than those without the condition.
However, the effects of this condition differ from person to person. Nonetheless, there are various symptoms that apply across the board and Shriver goes ahead to outline them. One of the mental factors includes retardation which limits an individual’s use of his mental faculties and limits his responsive powers. Moreover, they may have slow language and motor development. There are several physical symptoms including flat face, short neck and abnormally shaped ears. Others include deep crease in their palms, white spots in eyes, poor muscle tones and small feet and hands.
In addition people suffering from Down syndrome experience a myriad of other health complications. These include skeletal problems, celiac disease, eye problems, thyroid dysfunction, dementia, and intestinal problems, hearing difficulties, heart diseases and many more. It is a condition that has no cure and the only hope for such people is early intervention to mitigate future complications. Children with this condition are usually subjected to various procedures to enhance their possibility of leading normal lives.
These include speech therapy to improve communication skills and exercise to increase motor skills. Special education and attention in schools also goes along way in helping such children. Those at higher risk of having children with the syndrome include women over 40 or those who have already had babies with the syndrome. Humanity is afflicted with many shortcomings and our mortality ensures that we have no significant say in the outcomes of our physical bodies. For who would gladly invite sickness or disabilities save only the paradox of the smoker who despite adequate warning still puffs away?
In this light it is beyond our will or choice to determine the physical health of our babies and therefore conception of babies with Down syndrome is out of sheer misfortune and beyond medicinal or behavioral prevention. Parents who conceive such babies should make an ethical decision to seek early help and make a moral decision to abstain from aborting such an infant. Statistics show that for cases of such pregnancies, over 93% of the m lead to abortion. It has become clear that in most medical cases early intervention makes a very big difference and it is time all women ensured they had prenatal care.
In this regard the government should do enough to make health care accessible to all regardless of race or status in society. The current health care system is biased since it focuses more on the financial ability to cater for the cost and ignores the medical needs of those who cannot afford it. Furthermore, there is a need to initiate community awareness campaigns to counter such other factors like religions and cults that might advocate against medical treatments.
It is important to try to educate the public on the importance of embracing humanity without discrimination to ensure that people the condition are not stigmatized. Schools should also create programs that pay special attention to such children to improve on their shortcomings. Lastly parents must strive to reassure their children that their as good as their other peers since confidence on their part will affect he direction their lives take. Reference Eunice Kennedy Shriver. (2007). National Institute of Child Health and human Development: Down Syndrome. Retrieved July 13, 2009 from file:///H:/Down_Syndrome. cfm.