Women who are having their first babies after the age of 35 years and above are at the risk of having babies having Down syndrome.
Dr Yashim Andrew, a hematologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, made this assertion in Abuja on Thursday when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Down syndrome is a condition in which a foetus develops an extra chromosome while developing in the womb.
Chromosomes are small “packages’’ of genes in the body. They determine how a baby’s body forms during pregnancy and how the baby functions as it grows in the womb and after birth.
Typically, a baby is born with 46 chromosomes. Babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21.
This extra copy changes how the baby’s body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges for the baby.
“While doctors don’t know what causes it, they do know that women at 35 years and older have a higher chance of having babies with Down syndrome.
“The possibility of the condition actually increases as women get older before having children,’’ he said.