Down’s Syndrome People Risk ‘Extinction’ At The Hands Of Science, Fear and Ignorance

Society doesn’t do enough to show women carrying a baby with Down’s that the life inside them is precious, intelligent and capable of so much

A painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York called The Adoration of the Christ Child. Created in the 16th century by a Flemish artist, what stands out in this sublime presentation of the Nativity is the detail of the characters standing around the crib. Two of them, an angel and a shepherd, appear to have Down’s Syndrome.

This suggests that the condition has been around for a very long time, and it helps illuminate the early modern approach to disability. Religious art normally conformed to classical standards of beauty. By implication, the artist regarded people with Down’s as angelic. As, indeed, they are.

Unfortunately, society goes through peaks and troughs of sympathy towards the disabled – and we risk entering a darker age. The National Screening Committee has approved a simple blood test for Down’s Syndrome that in many ways is wonderful news. It should reduce the need for invasive testing procedures, which trigger around 350 cases of miscarriage every year.

“There is nothing shameful about Down’s and people don’t suffer from it. They live with it.”

PHOTO: Ms Brewer was the first model with Down’s syndrome to grace the runway at New York Fashion Week   Photo: (GETTY)



What is Down’s syndrome?

  • Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 in the body’s cells. In the majority of cases, it is not an inherited condition.
  • Experts do not know what causes Down’s syndrome. It occurs in all races, social classes and all countries around the world.
  • Around one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK will have Down’s syndrome.
  • There are more than 40,000 people in the UK with the condition.
  • Although the chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome is higher for older mothers, more babies with Down’s Syndrome are born to younger mothers.
  • Today, the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s syndrome is between 50 and 60, with a small number of people living into their 70s and beyond.

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