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Down Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is Down syndrome?

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 Down syndrome is not known. A woman's risk for having a baby with Down syndrome increases with age.

What are the physical features of Down syndrome?

Not all people with Down syndrome will have the same physical features. Your child may have any of the following:

How is Down syndrome diagnosed?

Screening tests can estimate your risk for having a baby with Down syndrome. Blood tests and ultrasounds are screening tests offered in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. If your risk is high, healthcare providers will advise you to have diagnostic testing. Diagnostic tests can confirm that a baby has Down syndrome. You may have any of the following:

How may Down syndrome affect my child's health?

Your child may be born with the following conditions or develop them later in life:

How can I help my child reach his or her physical and mental potential?

Where can I find support and more information?

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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Learn more about Down Syndrome

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Symptoms and treatments

Further information

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