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Position Statement on Cosmetic Surgery for Children with Down Syndrome

The decision to have cosmetic surgery is always a personal one, and the National Down Syndrome Society supports people with Down syndrome and their families in their individual choices. However, NDSS believes that such a decision should be an informed one, made by the family with the help of doctors, counselors and other interested parties.

For 20 years, NDSS has worked for inclusion and acceptance for all people with Down syndrome. Today more than ever, people with Down syndrome learn in regular classrooms, are employed in a variety of jobs and interact in many different ways in the larger community. NDSS believes in supporting individuals with Down syndrome through full inclusion in the community and not attaching a stigma to their physical features.

The goal of inclusion and acceptance is mutual respect based on who we are as individuals, not how we look. Altering a child's appearance as a means of encouraging acceptance does not change the reality of the disability. In fact, some education experts believe that the physical characteristics of Down syndrome may offer visual cues to people about an individual's disability and thus foster an easier acceptance and understanding of that disability. Many families believe that to alter their child's facial features would be to disrespect his or her individuality and that an important part of that individuality is the condition of Down syndrome.

It should be noted that cosmetic surgery is performed on a very small number of people with Down syndrome. NDSS advises parents considering cosmetic surgery to become educated about all aspects of the procedure as well as the physical, social and psychological consequences for their child, and to make an informed decision based on this knowledge.


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