DENVER (KDVR) — This has been a record month for an organization that provides resources for families with loved ones who have Down syndrome.
The Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association reported the highest number of referrals in Colorado last month compared to any other since the group was founded in 1981.
That means more people in Colorado are seeking out resources for loved ones with Down syndrome.
“We average about five to eight referrals a month,” Megan Reynolds, family program manager, said.
Birth numbers are up
The association gives resources to families who birth a child with or get a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
In February, the group saw 18 referrals, a record number. This is throughout Colorado, thanks to more people having more babies.
“Births are up, so I would attribute it just to the natural curve of number of births annually,” Reynolds said.
The help they provide families includes reassuring them their baby is typical and has the same needs as any other.
“They need to eat, sleep,” Reynolds said. “They have regular diaper changes and cry.”
More families are joining the community of those with a loved one with Down syndrome, according to the association.
“When that diagnosis is given, people know to call us,” Mary Ann Barwick, executive director, said.
“We would like to attribute some of it to that knowledge and that outreach effort that we’ve had,” Barwick said.
More Spanish-speaking families have become part of the community as well.
Down syndrome community sees medical advances
Thanks to advances in medicine, the association finds stigmas and biases about people with Down syndrome are being challenged more than ever before.
“(For) many years it used to be such a sad shortened life expectancy, and now, people with Down syndrome live until their mid-60s,” Reynolds said.
The association is marking World Down Syndrome Day on Sunday.