Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Yesterday marked the beginning of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. 

In order to kick-off the month I thought I would share some statistics about Down syndrome and our family.

-         Down syndrome occurs 1 in every 691 births making it the most commonly occurring genetic condition.
-         More than 85% of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers younger than 35 years. 
-         A congenital heart disease is found in 40-45% of children with Down syndrome.  Many, but not all, of these children will have to undergo cardiac surgery. 
-         9 out of 10 pregnancies are terminated after a diagnosis of Down syndrome. 

I share the last fact, because we have had many doctors, friends and acquaintances ask if we knew prior to Brett’s birth that he had Down syndrome.  After saying no, we have heard the response of “that’s too bad, you could have avoided this situation if you had.” 

And who knows what would have happened if we were told our baby had Down syndrome and was going to need heart surgery shortly after birth prior to him being born.  After Brett was born I spent many days in tears wishing I could have known.  Many weeks, knowing that I loved my baby, but wishing he was “normal”.  Many months, watching him accomplish tasks I didn’t think were possible on that first day.  How I wish I could have known what I know now and how proud I am of Brett and everything he does.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop wishing Brett had Down syndrome, but this is not because I wish he was a different person or “normal”.  This is because he amazes me everyday.  He works so hard to meet milestones we were told he wouldn’t reach so quickly.  And I just can’t help imagine where he would be if he didn’t have Down syndrome.

Here are some of the statistics I wish I would have known when Brett was born.

-         We are happy.
-         I love my child more than I could have ever imagined.
-         I am a better person and have a more positive outlook on life because of Brett.
-         A child with Down syndrome can do everything their peers do.  It may just be on their time.
-         99% of parents/guardians love their child with Down syndrome.  Only 4% regret having their child.     
-         88% of children feel they are better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome.
-         90% of children feel that their friends are comfortable around their sibling with Down syndrome. 
-         85-99% of individuals with Down syndrome are happy with their lives, like who they are, how they look, and believe they can make friends easily. 

As you can see, we are not the only family that is excited to have someone with Down syndrome in our lives. 

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