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Facts About Down Syndrome
- Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
- Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 792 babies is born with Down syndrome in the United States, totaling about 5,300 livebirths each year. More info...
- There are approximately 206,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States, and approximately 4,500 people with Down syndrome living in Massachusetts. About 95 babies with Down syndrome are born each year in Massachusetts.
- Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
- The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 52% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
- People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.
- 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 15 in 1955 to 60 today.
- People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
- All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
- Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
- Researchers are making great strides in identifying the genes on Chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics of Down syndrome. Many feel strongly that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated with Down syndrome in the future.
Material courtesy of our national partner, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the study Estimation of live birth and population prevalence of Down syndrome in nine U.S. states, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics in 2017.