Like many other couples, Michael Cox and Taylor Anderton dreamed of living happily ever after together. They wanted to get married, move in together and have children. However, this latter goal sparked a debate across Australia, and even within their own families – as both Cox and Anderton had Down syndrome.
Each of the cells that make up the human body contain genetic information which dictates the characteristics a person will have. These genes reside inside of chromosomes. The typical cell houses 23 pairs of chromosomes – 50 percent from a person’s father, the other half from their mother.
In some cases, though, a person’s cells contain an extra piece of genetic code. And a partial or full copy of chromosome 21 within each cell causes Down syndrome. It is unclear why this phenomenon occurs, but scientists have found some links to the mother’s age. It is thought that older women are more likely to give birth to a child with Down syndrome.