Chromosomal abnormalities are remarkably common in human reproduction. Down syndrome is one such chromosomal abnormality. In this article, we will discuss if there are any risk factors for down syndrome and which ones have strong associations with the condition.
Are there any risk factors for down syndrome?
Yes, there are several risk factors for down syndrome. It is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. The risk factors for down syndrome include folate metabolism, dietary, lifestyle, environmental, occupational, genetic and epigenetic factors. Environmental factors that influence the risk of trisomy 21 include tobacco use, folic acid supplementation, oral contraceptive use, etc.
Which risk factors are strongly associated with down syndrome?
The only certain risk factor for a down syndrome that researchers described is the mother’s age. Women who are 35 years or older are more likely to have a pregnancy affected by down syndrome. Researchers found that some environmental factors can be the cause of cardiac and gastrointestinal defects in down syndrome babies. These factors include mothers’ cigarette smoking and coffee consumption during pregnancy.
Besides these, same ancestry, region (rural/urban) of residence of parents, exposure of parents to chemicals, etc. are possible risk factors for the chromosomal abnormalities.
However, in order to fully understand the factors that can contribute to down syndrome among cases of maternal origin, we need further stratification into the errors that occur or originate during the first meiotic division (type of cell division that reduces the number of chromosomes in the parent cell by half and produces four gamete cells) in the maternal grandmother’s body and errors that occur later in life during the second maternal meiotic division.
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