Down Syndrome Awareness Month 2020 kicked off Thursday, an annual occasion to “raise public awareness about the condition and advocate for acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.”
October was first designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the 1980s and “has been recognized every October since.”
More than 400,000 Americans currently live with Down syndrome and 6,000 babies with the condition are born every year in the U.S., according to the Special Olympics.
Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra copy or part of a copy of chromosome 21, one of 46 chromosomes a baby is typically born with.
As a result of the extra chromosome, people with Down syndrome often have a “flattened facial profile,” “decreased muscle tone or loose joints,” and small stature. Down syndrome can also cause intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In spite of the difficulties they face, “people with Down syndrome are just like everyone else” in that they have “similar dreams and goals, and they want to have successful careers and families.”
“They can drive, go to work, go to college, go on dates, get married and contribute to society,” the Special Olympics pointed out in a statement.
President Donald Trump issued a statement on Thursday referring to babies born with Down syndrome as “treasured members of our society” who are “created in the image of God.”