Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, being universally present across racial, gender or socio-economic lines, and affecting approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) was established by Down Syndrome International in 2006 and has been observed in over 60 countries worldwide to date. It is held on 21 March (21/3) to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of chromosome 21 which causes the genetic condition.
The aim of the day is to raise awareness and
understanding about Down syndrome, and to promote the inherent rights of
persons with Down syndrome to enjoy full and dignified lives and be active and
valuable participants in their communities and society.
A resolution to designate 21/3 as “World Down Syndrome Day”, to be
observed every year beginning in 2012, was adopted by consensus by the United
Nations General Assembly in December 2011. The resolution was proposed and
promoted by Brazil, and co-sponsored by 78 UN Member States. From 2012 onwards,
the date will be celebrated by all 192 UN countries. To learn more about the
resolution process at the UN, visit.
Down syndrome - what to say (and what not to say)
When speaking about
issues relating to Down syndrome in a way that is both factually accurate and
inoffensive to the general public, including people with Down syndrome and
their families, please consider the table below compiled by DSi so that you are
not perpetuating any myths about the condition.
Source: Down Syndrome International
National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) guidelines on proper use of language for “Down syndrome”:
• Down vs. Down’s - NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down’s syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an “apostrophe s” connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using “Down syndrome,” as well.
• People with Down syndrome should always be
referred to as people first. Instead of “a Down syndrome child,” it should be
“a child with Down syndrome.” Also avoid “Down’s child” and describing the
condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”
Source: National Down Syndrome Society