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Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is an increasingly prevalent disease in the US. It is a genetic disease that is caused by an extra 21st chromosome. One in about every 800 live births has Down syndrome (National Down Syndrome Society). Down syndrome is the most common form of both identifiable retardation (Ludman and Wynbrandt, page 23) and genetic diseases (National Down Syndrome Society).
Down syndrome wasfirst recognized as a disease by John Langdon Down in 1866. Down is the namesake of the disease and is commonly called the "father" of Down syndrome. Down's original name for the syndrome was "Mongolian Idiocy," because of the slanted eyes and flat face of the carriers (National Down Syndrome Society). He thought that it was a throw-back to Mongolian ancestors, but the term is now out-of-date and thought to be offensive. For centuries before, however, Down syndrome characteristics had been found in art, literature, and science (National Down Syndrome Society). Down was working in a mental institution when he observed that several of his patients had similar features, and this urged him to study them (Ward). He finally concluded that they had a common disease, and classified it as Mongolian Idiocy (Ward). In 1959, Jerome Lejeune identified the disease as a chromosomal condition (National Down Syndrome Society). He found that instead of 46 chromosomes, there was an extra partial or complete 21st chromosome. In 1965, the name of the disease was changed from Mongolian Idiocy to Down syndrome, so it would be less offensive (National Down Syndrome Congress). In more recent years, much research has been conducted about Down syndrome. Many diseases have been linked to the syndrome. In 1986, researchers studying Down syndrome tissue found evidence of the amyloid plaque from Alzheimer's (Bishop and Waldholz). This let to the discovery that Alzheimer's is contained in the 21st chromosome, and that people with Down syndrom…

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