Maternal Age and Down Syndrome Essay

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The Influence of Maternal Age on Down syndrome
Children born to older parents are at greater risk for genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. No one knows what causes the chromosomal abnormality that results in Down syndrome, a condition according to the National Association for Down syndrome, affects one in 800 to 1,000 babies in the United States. Any woman regardless of her culture, race and socio-economic status can have a baby with Down syndrome. However, a mother’ age seems to be a unifying factor among children with Down syndrome. Older women have a greater chance of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome, and the risks increases with every passing year. The National Association for Down syndrome estimates the chance of
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John Langdon Down, the scientist for which Down syndrome is named after (left) and Dr. Jerome Lejeune, who correctly identified Down syndrome as a chromosomal abnormality, not a condition based on one’s race (right) (Photos courtesy of The Museum of Disability).
By the 20th century, Down syndrome had not been identified as a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome. Instead, Down syndrome was the most recognizable form of mental disabilities because of the distinctive facial features associated with the disease. Those who suffered form the condition were institutionalized and died in infancy or early adult life since their medical problems were not properly treated. Due to the rise of the eugenics movement in the United States, 33 of the 48 states approved forced sterilization of individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Examples of Sterilization laws passed in Indiana (right) and California (left) who believed that those with a mental disability such as Down syndrome would harm society.
However, the first scientist to assume that Down syndrome was actually a genetic disorder was Jerome Lejeune in 1959. Through karyotype analysis he observed that the disorder was the result of an extra chromosome, which he labeled as the 21st chromosome, and…

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