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Down syndrome
  1. M K DAVIES,
  2. A HOLLMAN

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geDown syndrome is named after Dr John Langdon-Down (1826-1896) who was a physician at the London Hospital and was also the superintendent of the Earlswood Asylum at Redhill, Surrey where he did pioneer work in training mentally retarded children. In his Lettsom Lectures of 1887 he classified mental patients according to their facial characteristics and he labelled one as Mongolism. This term was regarded as insulting and representatives of the Mongolian Peoples Republic successfully requested the World Health Organization in 1965 to drop the term in favour of the eponym Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is caused by trisomy 21 and affects 1 in 600 neonates of whom up to 50% have congenital heart disease. The common lesions are endocardial cushion defect, ventricular and atrial septal defects, and tetralogy of Fallot, while transposition of the great arteries and coarctation of the aorta are rare.

Thirty per cent of those with heart disease have multiple cardiac defects.

The 65 peseta stamp was issued by Spain to mark the Sixth World Down Syndrome Congress held in Madrid in 1997.

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