In 2007, I attended my first ever National Down Syndrome Congress conference. Campbell Brasington, a genetic counselor from Charlotte, North Carolina, shared the simplest way to raise awareness about Down syndrome and engage in medical outreach.
This is the time of year when many of us will be mailing out Christmas/Holiday/End-of-Year cards to our friends and family. Typically, these annual missives will include a photo of the family and, for some, a written update on the family’s activities. Brasington made the following simple suggestion for families to raise awareness about Down syndrome:
Include your obstetrician on your holiday card mailing list.
She explained that for many OBs, their experience with individuals with Down syndrome is the relatively brief moment of when they deliver a child with Down syndrome. If you have a child with Down syndrome, you can show how this child your OB delivered is growing up and what your child is doing. You can provide your OB a glimpse of what a life with Down syndrome can be like.
This simple tip isn’t limited just to OBs, but it would be good to at least start there. Parents could also consider adding the labor and delivery department of the hospital where their child was born, as well as the medical professionals who provided prenatal care, like genetic counselors, geneticists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists.
If you have a loved one with Down syndrome, I hope you will follow through with this simple tip of including your OB on your family’s holiday card list. If families did this each year, it would provide examples of what a life with Down syndrome can be like for the OB and other health care providers to share with their patients when they first deliver the diagnosis. Who knows: your family’s photo may be the one shown to a new or expectant mom to say, “well, this is how one of the families whose child I delivered is doing.”
UPDATE: This post has been updated. The Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network is promoting this simple awareness activity through the DSDN’s robust social network. I hope you’ll join the DSDN in spreading this simple awareness tip.