A four-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome has defied doctors by becoming a child model – after her mum was told she would never live a normal life.
Cara Brown was diagnosed with trisomy 21 – a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21, the most common form of Down's syndrome – hours after she was born.
The news came as a complete shock to her parents, Meryn, 37, and Duncan, 40, since they'd been told at their 12-week scan that the chances of their baby having Down's syndrome were low.
When doctors told the couple that their daughter would potentially face a whole list of lifelong medical conditions, including heart problems, they were heartbroken.
But mum-of-two Meryn, from Chesham, Bucks, said Cara is defying the odds by not just walking and talking but modelling for catalogues and campaigns too.
The social researcher said: "The way the consultant broke the news to Duncan and I wasn’t good – he didn’t have a good bedside manner.
“He told us Cara had Down’s syndrome and then listed all the medical issues she could possibly have, such as heart and bowel problems. None of which she does, luckily.
“They present it as a really negative thing and just talk about a lot of medical issues.
“When you’re just presented with a long list of problems that your child is going to have, it’s very scary and a terrifying thing to hear.
“But Cara’s four-and-a-half now and I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that she would be fine and an amazing little girl.
“It’s important that adverts and the media reflect society as it really is, and it’s fantastic Cara is contributing towards a more inclusive picture of society and counteracting negative stereotypes of Down’s syndrome.
“She’s done so well and I’m so proud of her.”
Cara is now involved in a campaign, Downright Amazing, to educate midwives and doctors to break the news to parents their child has Down’s syndrome in a sensitive way.
The idea to kick start her modelling career came from Meryn’s desire to battle the stereotype of the condition, showing children in a positive light.
The precocious youngster had her first shoot at two when a local photographer asked for help building his portfolio and is now a natural in front of the camera.
Since then Cara has bagged an agent and picked up paid work for clothing range Little Green Radicals, as well as starring in Downright Amazing's campaigns.
She's even become a celebrity in her local area and Meryn said her girl is recognised daily since she began modelling.
Meryn said: “Cara loves seeing the photos of herself and she loves doing it because she just gets to play around in the garden having fun. She’s become really confident.
“It’s been lovely to see how everything has come together.
“She’ll see a picture of herself in the supermarket and she’ll point it out. She’s always smiling and waving at everyone.
“We were in an ice cream shop once and some children recognized her and it was really nice, she loved it.”
The youngster’s condition means she is slower in reaching her milestones than her peers but she is now walking, talking and making friends at nursery as well as modelling for catalogues with her 20-month-old sister, Jessica, who doesn't have the condition.
But Meryn said she and lawyer husband, Duncan have received criticism for Cara’s slower development from people the family doesn’t even know.
She said: “We were in a car dealership a couple of years ago and a couple pointed at Cara and said she was way too old to be crawling.
“They were quite embarrassed when I explained that she had Down’s syndrome.
"She’s slower than typical kids her age but she’ll get to wherever she’s going to go.
"She has made a lot of progress, partly thanks to local charity called Sparkles, who provide speech therapy and physio."
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