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Oldest Case of Down's Syndrome Found

<![CDATA[Archaeologists have discovered a skeleton of a child who died about 1500 years with the characteristics of Down's Syndrome. The skeleton was found in a necropolis on the grounds of a church in Saint-Jean-des-Vignes in South-Eastern France. It is the oldest confirmed case of Down's Syndrome since the condition wasn't recognized until the 1800s. References of Down's Syndrome-like appearances have been made before, but are extremely rare. Hence, this find is a breakthrough. Down's Syndrome is a genetic disorder where a person has an extra chromosome, specifically of chromosome 21 (most of us have two). The sufferers of this condition see delayed growth and mental retardation. It was in 1862 that the condition was first detailed, by an English medical doctor named John Langdon Down. He published a report on the condition and named it a mental disability, hence the condition was named after him. There have been older cases that may or may not have portrayed Down's Syndrome. These cases of Down's Syndrome are incredibly rare, with them often being poorly described or taken out of context. The body of the child found with Down's Syndrome was found buried with others, meaning that the child was not stigmatized or treated any differently at the time. The child was placed in a tomb on its back, facing from east to west. Other bodies in the necropolis were found in the same position. This could be because the medieval French were ignorant to the fact that this child was sick or they were more progressive than thought. A similar argument of non-discriminatory treatment towards the different-looking of society was published in 2011 in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology where the researchers found a skeleton of man thought to have been suffering from dwarfism. The skeleton was found to also be 1500 years old and was found in Israel. His body was buried similarly to others of normal stature around him making researchers believe that he was treated as a normal member of society. The sex of the child is unknown, as is the cause of its death. Archaeologists at the University of Bordeaux found the remains, and used a combination of radiographic techniques and metrics to compare the skull of the child to those belonging to people of the same age and location. They found that the skull was short and broad, the forehead disfigured, with the posterior section of the skull flattened, and the teeth inflamed. These are all signs of Down's Syndrome. They also noticed dental defects and that the frontal sinuses were absent, and the face was small, with low and thin mandibles, which is the jawbone running below each ear. The researchers concluded that the cranial skeleton found in the necropolis belonged to a child who suffered from Down's Syndrome, and represents the earliest and youngest case of that pathology. Even though researchers believe that these people were treated like everyone else, John Starbuck of the Indiana University in Indianapolis states that it can be difficult to extrapolate cultural values from skeletal remains.]]>

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