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Down Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Down syndrome is a condition that occurs when a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are groups of genes that tell the body how to grow and function. This extra chromosome causes certain physical features and delays in physical and mental development. It also increases your child's risk for certain health problems. The cause of the extra chromosome is not known. A woman's risk for having a baby with Down syndrome increases with age.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


may be given to prevent an infection in your baby's heart.


  • An echocardiogram is a kind of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to see if your baby has any heart defects.
  • Newborn hearing screening is done to check if your baby is born with hearing loss.
  • An eye exam is done to check if your baby is born with any eye problems.
  • Blood tests check thyroid function and look for blood disorders.


may be needed for a variety of medical conditions related to Down syndrome. Your baby may need surgery for birth defects, such as heart or gastrointestinal problems.


Your baby may have trouble breastfeeding because of poor muscle tone. A lactation consultant can help you if your baby is having trouble latching on. A lactation consultant also can teach you how to pump and store breast milk.

Correct Latch-on Breastfeeding


Your baby is at a higher risk for certain medical conditions. These include heart defects, gastrointestinal problems, hearing and vision loss, and infections. Regular checkups will help your baby's healthcare provider monitor his or her health and development.


You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Down Syndrome

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Care guides

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.