Irene Ayako Uchida: Cause of Down Syndrome

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.


Good science is about asking good questions. So when genetic anomalies researcher Irene Uchida learned those born with Down syndrome had an extra chromosome, she decided to find out why. Uchida’s studies soon associated the presence of the extra chromosome in children with the mothers’ exposure to radiation, which altered their genetic material – a finding that led to fewer abdominal X-rays on women. Uchida continued her research on birth defects as director of genetics and cytogenetics (chromosomes) at universities and hospitals in Ontario and Manitoba.

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