Medieval Skeleton May Be Oldest Down Syndrome Case

Child buried 1.5K years ago had the common characteristics

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 5, 2014 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists in France have unearthed what they say is the earliest known case of Down Syndrome, reports New Scientist. A child buried about 1,500 years ago in what is now Chalon-sur-Saone has the short, broad skull and other features characteristic of the syndrome. "This case represents the earliest and youngest example of the condition in the archaeological record," write the researchers in the International Journal of Paleopathology.

An expert at Indiana University not involved with the dig says the paper "makes a convincing case of a diagnosis." One of the lead researchers from the University of Bordeaux notes that the child was buried in the same manner as others at the site, leading the team to speculate that Down Syndrome wasn't seen as a stigma in medieval times. (A recent ad campaign features people with Down Syndrome speaking to future moms.)

  (Shutterstock)
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