Monday, October 6, 2008

Physical characteristics of Down syndrome

There are certain physical characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome.
Each individual is unique, so a person might have only some, or all of the following features.

  • Nose-The bridge of the nose is small and flat. This accounts for the cutest button nose you have ever seen!
  • Eyes- These are the beautiful almond shaped eyes. I believe this is the most defining characteristic. Some individuals have what is called Brushfield spots in their eyes which are most common in blue eyes. I love Nichole's eyes, they are captivating!
  • Mouth- Sometimes the upper lip is "lazy" due to low muscle tone. Sometimes their tongue sticks out, again, because of low muscle tone (remember, the tongue is a muscle.) This contributes to the juiciest, most delicious kisses!
  • Teeth- For babies, teeth may come in late, and in random order. They tend to be small, and sometimes unusually shaped.
  • Ears- They tend to be small, and lay lower on the head. One thing is for sure, Nichole will be the first Stumbo not to have a "big ear" complex.
Edited to say: No, I am not suggesting that All Stumbos have big ears. There are a few that have shared with me how they always thought when called "Dumbo" it was because of their big ears, rather than a silly rhyme. In our immediate family, the big ears do apply to ALL members, including me :)

  • Stature- Individuals with Down syndrome tend to be smaller. Remember, the best gifts come in small packages!
  • Hands and Feet- Smaller, and fingers and toes tend to be shorter (and chubby!). The palm of the hand may have only one crease, called the simian crease. The feet sometimes have a gap between the first and second toes with a deep crease on the sole where the gap is. These are the sweetest hands that will ever touch your face, and the perfect feet for flip-flops!
Babies and individuals with Down syndrome may resemble one another because of similar features, BUT, they resemble their families more than they resemble one another. Remember, 46 of their chromosomes are perfectly normal, and ALL their chromosomes came from their mom and dad.

I will be very honest, but one of the hard comments that a parent can hear (at least for me) is when Nichole is compared to another child with Down syndrome. "She looks just like such!," or "She looks just like my niece when she was a baby, she has Down syndrome too!" I am aware that my Nichole looks like she has Down syndrome, because, she does! Yes, there are certain facial features that are similar, in a way that you would conclude that all white people look the same, all Hispanics look the same, all Asian people look the same, all black people look the same, or all Arab people look the same. There are specific characteristics that make people groups look similar, but we would all agree, that each individual has it's own unique characteristics that sets them apart from anyone else regardless of their race. It is the same with my daughter and all the beautiful children with Down syndrome.

Nichole does have almond shaped eyes, like most people with down syndrome, and she has a button nose. Her eyes are blue, like her daddy and sister, her nose is like Ellie's, just with a small bridge, her mouth is like her mommy's and so are her ears. As a matter of fact, Nichole looks a lot like Ellie did as a baby. Even now, Ellie cannot tell the difference between her baby pictures or Nichole's. The only way to tell sometimes, is looking at the eyes.

All individuals with Down syndrome are unique and special. They were carefully crafted by God. We are all God's work of art, individually and fearfully created. God's works are wonderful! I know that full well.

For more on this subject and pictures, please click here.


  1. Jody O.1:48 PM

    Ellen, Just letting you know that I have been here (more than once actually!).
    Your posts have lots of good info. in them and have answered questions that I had as well made me aware of some things that I had no idea about!
    Have a great Down Syndrome Awareness month!

  2. Kezia9:30 PM

    Oi amiga Ellen,

    Congratulations on Nichole's birthday. You are a lovely and proud Mom and you should be, Elle & Nichole are beautiful. Thanks for leaving your blog address in our computer. I have read almost every week and I enjoy very much knowing about your family and seeing the girls pictures. Every time when I think in Nichole, I remember her reading her book with so much excitement and kissing the babies' pictures and kind of talking with them, very lovely.
    With love, Kezia

  3. Well said Ellen.

    I agree with you about people commenting that our kids all look alike.

    I am very pleased that Polly looks like her sisters too.

  4. Ellen H.10:52 AM

    Hi Ellen!
    I just wanted you to know that I check your blog quite often. The girls are getting so big...and they are both absolutely beautiful! You have helped me deal with alot of the fears and feelings that I have experienced in the past year with Max and all of the tests that he has had to go through. It is so important to just embrace our children the way they are, they way that God has given them to us! All we can do is love them! Thank you for all the awesome information as well as the great inspiration!!!! Wish I could have made it down to hear you speak for MOPS!
    Miss you!

  5. Hey- I don't have a Stumbo big ear syndrome! Hmm, maybe you're trying to tell me something. Oh great, now I am thinking about my ears.

    Great material here- thansk for taking the time to do this. It's really nice, especially since we don't get to be around you nearly as much as we'd like.



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