World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), March 21st, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.

Photo from World Down Syndrome Day 2020

The date for WDSD is March 21 each year and selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

WDSD is a day to encourage friends all over the world to choose their own activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.

What can you do for World Down Syndrome Day?

  • Talk about World Down Syndrome Day in your classroom, at work, and at home.
  • Read and share I Am Me and get students and kids talking about what makes them unique and how we’re all part of a shared community.
  • Wear brightly colored socks, long socks, printed socks, 1 sock… even 3 socks for 3 chromosomes. If you do not normally wear socks, wear them! Wear fun socks at home, nursery, school, college, university, work, play, travel, on holiday…wherever you will be on 21 March!

Take pictures of your classroom reading and discussing the book I Am Me and of your fun socks and share them on Social Media. Make sure you use the hashtags: #LotsOfSocks #WDSD22 #IAmMeMeantToBe 

What is Down syndrome?

In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.

How is Down syndrome diagnosed?

Down syndrome is usually identified at birth by the presence of certain physical traits: low muscle tone, a single deep crease across the palm of the hand, a slightly flattened facial profile and an upward slant to the eyes. Because these features may be present in babies without Down syndrome, a chromosomal analysis called a karyotype is done to confirm the diagnosis. To obtain a karyotype, doctors draw a blood sample to examine the baby’s cells. They photograph the chromosomes and then group them by size, number, and shape. By examining the karyotype, doctors can diagnose Down syndrome.

Another genetic test called FISH can apply similar principles and confirm a diagnosis in a shorter amount of time. Look at the picture of a karyotype below. Don’t those chromosomes look a bit like socks? That’s where #RockYourSocks for WDSD comes from!



Read about how WDSD came about on the United Nations resolution page.

National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS): 

World Down Syndrome Day:

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