Can animals have Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome is a genetic alteration that occurs in humans for different causes. It is a frequent congenital condition, therefore, many people wonder if animals can have Down syndrome. ¿Have you ever questioned it too??

In this AnimalWised article we want to demystify many of the claims of the network. We will explain what Down Syndrome is and if there are animals this condition. Do not miss it, ¡keep reading!

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What is Down syndrome?

To adequately clarify this issue, it is important to first know What is Down syndrome and what mechanisms cause it to appear in humans.

The genetic information of the human being is organized in chromosomes. Chromosomes are structures formed by DNA and proteins with a very high level of organization, which contain our genetic sequence and therefore greatly determine the nature of our organism..

In general, the human being has 23 pairs of chromosomes, however, those with Down syndrome have a extra copy of chromosome 21. Instead of having a pair, they have three. Although the exact causes of this chromosomal excess are not known, it is suspected that it is related to the mother's age at the time of giving birth. In genetics it is known as "trisomy 21 ".

This genetic alteration it is responsible for the characteristic physical features that we observe in people with Down syndrome and that are accompanied by a certain degree of cognitive disability and alterations in growth and muscle tissue.

Are there animals with Down syndrome?

We must know that Down syndrome is a exclusively human alteration, since the chromosomal organization of human beings is different from that of animals.

However, it is obvious that animals also have certain genetic information with a specific sequence, in fact, gorillas have DNA that is equal to human DNA in a percentage of 97-98%.

Given that animals have genetic sequences ordered also in chromosomes (the pairs of chromosomes depend on each species), they can suffer trisomies of some chromosome and that these translate into cognitive and physiological difficulties, as well as anatomical alterations that give it a characteristic state.

This happens for example in laboratory mice that present a trisomy on chromosome 16, but finally, to conclude this question we must remain with the following statement: animals can suffer genetic alterations and trisomies in some chromosome, but NOT Down syndrome, an exclusively human disorder caused by a trisomy on chromosome 21.

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