Down Syndrome is a condition in which an extra chromosome is found in a person. A medical term for an extra copy of a chromosome is “Trisomy”. It is also referred to as Trisomy 21. This extra copy changes the baby’s body and brain development which are both mental and physical challenges for the baby and, hence, leads to developmental disabilities.
Many disabilities are lifelong and thus shorten life expectancy. Down syndrome is commonly linked with anatomical abnormalities and intellectual disability. Individuals suffering from Down syndrome are more likely to develop other diseases such as congenital heart diseases, leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Hirschsprung disease. However, these are few diseases to name. However, those with down syndrome can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Causes and Risk Factors of Down Syndrome
It is well known that the cause of Down Syndrome is an extra chromosome but there is no definite cause of why it occurs or what and how many factors play a role.
The risk of having a baby with down syndrome is related to the mother’s age. The woman who is younger when pregnant has fewer chances of having babies with down syndrome as compared to women who are 35 or above who become pregnant and are more likely to have a pregnancy affected by down syndrome.
Types of Down Syndrome
Because the physical features and behaviors are identical in all three types of down syndrome, people have to look at the chromosomes to differentiate.
- Trisomy down syndrome: About 95% of people have this down syndrome.
- Translocation Down syndrome: Small percentage i.e. 3%
- Mosaic down syndrome: About 2 % Mosaic means mixture or combination.
Common features :
- A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose.
- Almond-shaped eyes.
- A short neck.
- Small ears.
- A tongue sticks out of the mouth.
- Tiny white spots on the iris.
- Small hands & feet.
- Small fingers that sometimes curve toward the thumb.
- Poor muscle tone or loose joints.
- Shorter in height than children and adults.
As compared to a child without this condition, a kid with down syndrome is born on average size but will develop more slowly.
Delays in mental and social development mean the child could have :
- Impulsive behavior
- Poor Judgement
- Short attention span
- Slow learning capabilities.
Down syndrome, people will be prone to infection. They may suffer from respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.
Can Cannabis relieve symptoms of Down Syndrome?
Some studies lead to the fact that possibly cannabis is able to relieve symptoms of Down Syndrome. There is evidence that shows that the endocannabinoid system likely plays a role in down syndrome and hence the cannabinoids may be able to reduce the symptoms of the disorder.
The studies do suggest cannabinoid-based therapies which target the system may improve symptoms.
A review from 2018, for eg. It was found that cannabinoid CBD & THC reduce the presence of amyloid plaques and damaged neurons in humans and animals with multiple conditions.
It is found that cannabinoids protect against a plethora of other down syndrome symptoms from impulsivity and difficulty to maintain attention to gastrointestinal issues, sleeping issues, and seizures. It is further confirmed by the parents of children with down syndrome.
A study was conducted in 2008, in which it was found that people who are suffering from down syndrome tend to have increased activity among their cannabinoid Type 2 (CB2) receptors and the enzyme DAAH – this breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide in their beta-amyloid plaques.
The findings do not confirm that the endocannabinoid system is actually dysfunctional in adults who are suffering from down syndrome. It suggests that cannabinoid based therapies targeting the system may improve symptoms.
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