down syndrome
Down syndrome: It's only an extra chromosomeDown's Syndrome Association

World Downs Syndrome Day is taking place today to raise awareness of the genetic condition and give those affected by it a greater voice in society.

WDSD is held on 21 March because the disorder is caused by the presence of all, or part of, a third copy of chromosome 21.

IBTimes UK looks at some of the common myths surrounding the condition.

Downs syndrome makes people unhealthy

No it doesn't. Downs syndrome is a genetic condition, not an illness. Like everyone in the world, people with Downs syndrome may suffer from health problems at certain points in their lives, but this is in no way connected to their condition.

Downs syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome – in many people with the disorder, it is not even a whole chromosome.

There are certain illnesses people with Downs syndrome are more prone to. However this is no different from, for example, people with red hair having an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

Children with Downs syndrome have difficult temperaments

Children with Downs syndrome, like all children, can be headstrong and have difficult temperaments. However, this is not to say it is a result of their condition.

In fact the Toddler Temperament Scale, which was completed by mothers of 37 Downs syndrome children, who also completed questionnaires about their non-Downs syndrome siblings, found that Downs syndrome children were more rhythmic, less intense and had a more positive mood than other toddlers.

People with Downs syndrome stop learning

A common misconception about people with Downs syndrome is that they stop learning. However, this is not the case and they continue to learn throughout their lives, the same as people without the extra chromosome.

In a blog for Huffington Post in 2012, Downs syndrome actress Lauren Potter said: "I am still going to school to learn more about life, about living more independently, about making good decisions, and most importantly... TO NEVER EVER GIVE UP MY DREAMS!"

People with Down syndrome all look the same

While people with Downs syndrome share certain characteristics, they do not all look the same as some people seem to believe:

"There are certain physical characteristics that can occur," the Downs Syndrome Association explains. "People with Down syndrome can have all of them or none. A person with Down syndrome will always look more like his or her close family than someone else with the condition."

People with Downs syndrome don't live for very long

With better understanding of the condition and better access to health care, people with Downs syndrome can now look forward to a life of 60 years plus.