The Down, Edwards and Patau syndromes

Down Syndrome (trisomy 21)

Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) is a congenital disorder caused by the presence of one ‘extra’ chromosome. Chromosomes are all over our body cells. They contain our hereditary characteristics. A person with Down syndrome does not have two, but rather three copies in each cell of one particular chromosome (chromosome 21). People with Down syndrome have a light or severe degree of intellectual disability and a number of physical features. Children with Down syndrome develop less quickly, both physically and mentally. Many babies with Down syndrome die during pregnancy. Almost half of them are born with cardiac abnormality and/or other abnormalities. Cardiac abnormality can be treated surgically depending on the nature and severity of the abnormality. 

Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18)

Edwards syndrome, like Down syndrome, is a genetic disorder, caused by the presence of one extra chromosome. A child with Edwards syndrome has three copies of chromosome 18. Edwards syndrome is much less common than Down syndrome. A child with Edwards syndrome has a most vulnerable health. Most children with Edwards syndrome die during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Most children die in the first year of their lives. Children with Edwards Syndrome have severe mental retardation. About 9 of all 10 children have a serious congenital heart defect. Other organs too (e.g. kidneys, intestines) are usually affected. Also, children with Edwards syndrome may have omphalocele and esophageal atresia. Children with Edwards syndrome usually develop insufficiently already before birth. Weight at birth is low. The child may have a small face and a large skull. Serious health problems always exist, however the nature and severity of these problems may differ in every child. 

Patau Syndrome (trisomy 13)

Patau syndrome is yet another congenital disorder, caused by the presence of one extra chromosome. A child with Patau syndrome does not have two, but three copies in every cell of chromosome 13. Patau syndrome is much less common than Down syndrome. A child with Patau syndrome has a very vulnerable health. Most children with Patau syndrome die during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Most children die in the first year of their lives. Children with Patau syndrome are severely mentally retarded. Usually, the brains and the heart fail to develop properly. Kidney defects and abnormal gastrointestinal tracts may also occur. In addition, children with Patau syndrome may develop more fingers or toes. Insufficient growth occurs already before birth. Weight at birth is low and facial abnormalities may present themselves, including a cleft lip and palate. Serious health problems always exist, however the nature and severity of these problems may differ in every child.