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Full potential: Emory's Down Syndrome Center

Meet the Mulligans.

The father, Paul, is an executive at The Coca-Cola Company, and the mom, Adrienne, a community activist and tall Irish beauty. Their two boys, Hugo and Kyle—ages 7 and 6—are boisterous but well-mannered, shaking an adult’s hand and saying “Nice to meet you” before they thunder outside to play. The baby, Sara Kate, is a loveable and cuddly 3-year-old, who has her mother’s good looks.

But Sara Kate has one additional attribute—an extra copy of chromosome number 21. This condition is called trisomy 21 but is more commonly known as Down syndrome (DS). Around 250,000 families nationwide have a child with DS, which occurs in 1 of 691 births.

The additional genetic material causes what Adrienne Mulligan calls “a perfect storm of circumstances.” These children have developmental delays, and they often experience hypotonia (low muscle tone), congenital heart defects, respiratory challenges, and gastrointestinal abnormalities.

However, with early interventions, many children with DS now are overcoming these obstacles to live rich and full lives up to age 50 and beyond. The Down Syndrome Center at Emory helps more than 200 children with DS each year, providing clinical care, access to research, and connections to community resources to allow these children to reach their fullest potential.

This is one of the reasons that the Mulligans say they are grateful to be in Atlanta.

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