What is Down Syndrome?

Some Facts

  • Down syndrome is a common genetic variation which usually causes delay in physical, intellectual and language development.
  • The exact causes of the chromosomal rearrangement and primary prevention of Down syndrome are currently unknown.Down syndrome is one of the leading clinical causes of cognitive delay in the world.
  • The incidence of Down syndrome in the United States is estimated to be 1 in every 691 live births.
  • About one-quarter million families in the United States are affected by Down Syndrome.  It is not related to race, nationality, religion, or socio-economic status.
  • The incidence of birth of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. However, due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
  • There is wide variation in intellectual abilities, behavior and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities and talents.
  • 30 – 50% of individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8 – 12% have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth.  Most of these conditions are now correctable with surgery.
  • A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
  • Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care and positive public attitudes.
  • In adulthood, many persons with Down syndrome hold jobs, live independently and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities.