An average of eight babies born in Malta each year have Down's syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, the most common chromosomal defect globally, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Chris Fearne said today.

Down's syndrome is a condition occurring in about one in 700 births. Over the last 20 years, 166 babies with Down's syndrome were registered with the Malta Congenital Anomalies Register.

On the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow, Mr Fearne applauded the sterling work being done by the Adult Down Syndrome Clinic within the Birkirkara Health Centre. Run in conjunction with the Malta Down Syndrome Association the clinic attends to individuals, aged 16 years and over, afflicted by Down's syndrome.

Running every Saturday morning, this clinic has close to 170 registered clients. Talks about self-care, friendship, dating and contraception, are held for the Down's syndrome adult community, their parents and guardians.

A main target of the clinic is to promote healthy lifestyles to persons with Down's syndrome and to nurture a holistic attitude towards health issues.

Persons with Trisomy 21 have an increased risk of certain health problems such as heart disease, hypothyroidism, hearing and visual impairment, diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions and epilepsy.

It is therefore recommended that regular health screening for persons with Down's syndrome is carried out to ensure that any ailment can be detected and treated as early as possible.

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