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.




Person/baby/child with Down syndrome

Suffers from OR is a victim of Down syndrome

Has Down syndrome

A Downs baby/person/child

A person/baby/child with Down syndrome or who has Down syndrome

Retarded/mentally handicapped/backward

Learning disability


Condition OR genetic condition

Downs (as an abbreviation)

DS (as an abbreviation if necessary)



People with Down syndrome do not live very long.

Today, people with Down syndrome can look forward to a long life.

Only older mothers have babies with Down syndrome.

Although older mothers have a higher individual chance of having a baby with Down syndrome, more are born to younger mothers, reflecting the higher birth rate in this age group.

People with Down syndrome cannot achieve normal life goals.

With the right support, they can. The vast majority of people with Down syndrome learn to walk and talk, and many are now attending mainstream schools, passing exams and living full, semi-independent adult lives.

People with Down syndrome all look the same.

There are certain physical characteristics that can occur. People with Down syndrome can have all of them or none. A person with Down syndrome will always look more like his or her close family than someone else with the condition.

People with Down syndrome are always happy and affectionate.

We are all individuals and people with Down syndrome are no different to anyone else in their character traits and varying moods.

 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

Activities in India on 21st March 2012 

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