Ashley and Hannah’s story holds significance as it serves to raise awareness about Down syndrome, a condition that still faces social stigma. Down syndrome occurs when infants are born with an additional copy of chromosome 21 in the nuclei of their cells, according to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS).

There are three types of Down syndrome: Trisomy 21 (Nondisjunction), Mosaicism, and Translocation. The likelihood of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age. A 35-year-old mother has approximately a 1 in 350 chance of conceiving a child with the condition, gradually increasing to 1 in 100 by the age of 40.

The non-profit organization further explains that approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in the U.S., making it the most common chromosomal condition. Since the official documentation of the syndrome by the English physician John Langdon Down in the late 19th century, both the scientific community and society have made significant progress.

Thanks to medical advancements, individuals like Hannah are expected to live longer lives, with Hannah projected to live until age 60 compared to children with Down syndrome in 1910 who were typically expected to survive only until age 9, according to the NDSS. With the increased lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome and organizations like the NDSS, social acceptance has grown, as people have become more tolerant and understanding of those affected by the syndrome.

The overwhelmingly positive response to Ashley, Hannah, and Seaton’s story of love and friendship serves as further evidence that society is prepared to engage in more open discussions about Down syndrome

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