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Down Syndrome and the Family

  • By: Marcia Van Riper
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Down syndrome (DS), the most common genetic cause of intellectual disabilities, affects individuals from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Worldwide, there are more than 1.8 million individuals living with DS; the prevalence of DS varies from 1 out of 600 to 1 out of 1,000 live births depending on factors such as maternal age (which is a significant risk factor for DS), use of prenatal screening and diagnosis, and attitudes about pregnancy termination. DS influences not only the health of the affected individual but also the health of other family members and the family as a whole. Because of the ongoing challenges associated with raising an individual with DS (extra demands on time, effort, and resources, changes in roles and responsibilities, and social stigma), families ...

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