What is Down's Syndrome?

  • Down's syndrome, also known as Down syndrome, is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features.
  • Around 775 babies are born with the condition each year in England and Wales.
  • In some cases, babies with the condition are identified before birth as a result of screening for Down's syndrome.
  • Many babies born with Down's syndrome are diagnosed with the condition after birth and are likely to have:
    • reduced muscle tone leading to floppiness (hypotonia)
    • eyes that slant upwards and outwards
    • a small mouth with a protruding tongue
    • a flat back of the head
    • a below average weight and length at birth
  • People with Down's syndrome vary in personality and ability. Everyone born with Down's syndrome will have a degree of learning disability, but the level of disability will be different for each individual.

How to Manage Down's Syndrome

  • Although there is no "cure" for Down's syndrome, there are ways to help children with the condition develop into healthy and fulfilled individuals who are able to achieve a level of independence right for them. This includes:
    • access to good healthcare, including a range of different specialists
    • early intervention programmes to provide support for children and parents
    • good parenting skills and an ordinary family life
    • education and support groups to provide information and help for parents, friends and families
  • Improved education and support has led to more opportunities for people with Down's syndrome. These include being able to leave home, form new relationships, gain employment and lead largely independent lives.
  • However, it is important to remember that each child is different and it is not possible to predict how individuals will develop.

All information from NHS Choices