What Is Downs Syndrome

It is not a disease, just a part of what makes people with Down's syndrome who they are. People with Down's syndrome are not ill and do not 'suffer' from the condition.

For every 1,000 babies born, usually one baby will have the condition.

Approximately 750 babies with the condition are born in the UK each year.

It affects people of all ages, races and economic situations.

Although the chances of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases for older mothers, more babies with the condition are born to younger women, since the overall birth rate tends to be higher in women of younger age groups.

Down's syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 in a baby's cells, meaning they have 3 copies instead of two, this is why Down's syndrome is also known as 'trisomy 21'. It occurs by chance at conception and is irreversible.

Many people with Down's syndrome experience very good health, however, the incidence of a number of health conditions (including thyroid disorders, heart conditions, visual and hearing impairments) are more common. We know much more about these conditions today than in previous generations and much can be done to identify and treat these associated health issues.

All people with the condition will have some level of learning disability. However, children and adults with Down's syndrome will learn and acquire new skills, but they may need support and practise to do so. Around 80% of children with Down's syndrome go to mainstream primary schools and more and more adults and leading fulfilling, semi-independent lives - including having paid jobs and lasting relationships.

The outlook for people with Down's syndrome is increasingly positive and today the average life expectancy for a person with Down's syndrome is around 60.

It is estimated that there are around 40,000 people with Down's syndrome living in the UK.