What is Down Syndrome?

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome, the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition, most often occurs when a person has an extra copy of chromosome 21 (Trisomy 21), but may also occur due to translocation or mosaicism.  One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.

In Arizona, 161 babies a year are born with Down syndrome. 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.

Down syndrome is usually identified at birth, or shortly after. Initially, the diagnosis is based on physical characteristics that are commonly seen in babies with Down syndrome. However, the diagnosis must be confirmed by a chromosome study, karyotype.

Children with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate. Children with Down syndrome are more like other children than they are different; they learn and grow. They simply achieve their goals at a different pace. Each individual has their own unique personality, capabilities and talents. One should always use “people-first” language. For example: a newborn is a baby with Down syndrome, not a Down’s baby.

With appropriate education, therapy, social support and opportunity, individuals with Down syndrome will lead fulfilling and productive lives.


Many online resources are available for families.


 Back to School Tip

Create and share an “All About Me

booklet with each of your child’s teachers. It provides information about your child, facts/myths about Down syndrome and opens a dialogue for success in the classroom. Download a copy here.

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