Trisomy-21 – what is it, who is at risk and can it be prevented?

Trisomy-21, also known as Down Syndrome is one of the most common genetic conditions. It affects about 1 in every 500 live births in South Africa.  Screening for Down Syndrome can be done with the first trimester screenings which involve a blood test and ultra sound scan.


What is Down Syndrome?

Like Trisomy – 18, Down Syndrome, is a chromosomal abnormality that happens at the time of conception. The extra chromosome 21 results in delayed development both physically and intellectually.

Who is at risk for Down Syndrome?

While the exact cause of Down Syndrome is not known, women over 35 years of age are most at risk of having a child who has Down Syndrome.

Can Down Syndrome be prevented or cured?

There is no prevention or cure for this abnormality. The screening tests assess whether a mother is at risk of having a child with this abnormality. If she is high risk it does not mean there is anything wrong with her unborn baby. It simply means she needs to potentially go for more testing.

If you are concerned about anything during your pregnancy please contact your health care provider. This post was approved by a health care professional but does not take the place of a diagnosis.

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