(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Approximately 1,000 Jordanians are currently living with Down syndrome, according to Ministry of Health statistics.
Minister of Health Abdul Latif Wreikat said the ministry provides free of charge healthcare services to all Jordanians diagnosed with Down syndrome, as it does so for all persons with disabilities and children under six years old.
The minister made his remarks yesterday at a conference to mark World Down Syndrome Day, which is observed annually on March 21.
Basem Kiswani, an adviser at the ministry, called on the public to stop using the term "Mongoloid" to refer to persons with Down syndrome and to use the scientific name instead.
He explained that persons with Down syndrome can be productive if they are provided with appropriate training.
Yesterday marked the seventh anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and the first time the occasion was officially observed by the United Nations, according to the World Down Syndrome Day website.
Down syndrome is a type of mental disability caused by extra genetic material in chromosome 21. This can be due to a process called nondisjunction, in which genetic materials fail to separate during a crucial part of the formation of gametes, resulting in an extra chromosome, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The cause of nondisjunction is not known, although it correlates with a woman's age reference. The additional material present influences development and results in the state known as Down syndrome.
Some physical characteristics of Down syndrome in infants are decreased muscle tone, a flat face, eyes slanting up, irregularly shaped ears, the ability to extend joints beyond the usual, a large space between the big toe and its neighbouring toe and a large tongue relative to the mouth, according to WHO.
Down syndrome patients can also be afflicted with other conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and leukaemia.
The estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between one in 1,000 to one in 1,100 live births worldwide. Each year approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with this chromosome disorder and it is believed there are about 250,000 families in the US who are affected by Down Syndrome, according to WHO figures.