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Ancient Genomes Reveal Down Syndrome in Past Societies

Burials show that children with Down Syndrome and Edwards Syndrome were recognized as members of their communities

An international team of researchers has analysed the DNA from a world-wide sample of nearly 10,000 ancient individuals to search for cases of Down Syndrome, an uncommon genetic condition caused by the presence of an additional copy of Chromosome 21. Scanning the genome data, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, found six children with Down Syndrome. Five of these children were buried more than 2,000 years ago and lived to, at most, one year of age. Although their lives were short, all of these children received a burial, often with grave goods, showing that they were appreciated as members of their ancient societies.

© Servicio Patrimonio Histórico Gobierno de Navarra