On June 13, 2001, our daughter, Anna, was born with Down syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality which occurs once in approximately 733 live births. In November 2002, we received the devastating news that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). We had known from her birth that she ran a higher risk to contract this type of cancer. Through the difficult time of chemotherapy and recovery, we got to know how incredibly strong our little girl is and learned a lot about both Down syndrome and AML. We were amazed at how little is known about the two conditions and how they are related. For instance, children with Down syndrome who develop this type of leukemia have a much higher cure rate from the cancer than children without Down syndrome – but no one knows why.
There are many other medical issues and life challenges that individuals with Down syndrome face — such as heart ailments, Alzheimer’s, vision and hearing loss — many of the same conditions which are prevalent among the general population. Scientists have recently determined that research efforts in Down syndrome can also unlock answers to these diseases affecting the general population.