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Man with Down syndrome having a check-up.

Man with Down syndrome having a check-up.
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Down syndrome

Down syndrome occurs when a baby is born with an extra (third) copy of chromosome 21. It is a genetic condition and is not an illness or a disease.

Like everyone, people with Down syndrome vary in appearance, ability and personality. But there are some health problems many people with Down syndrome can share.

What causes Down syndrome?

Doctors know how Down syndrome occurs but not why. The body cells of most people have 46 chromosomes.

People with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21 in their body cells. Having this extra chromosone happens by chance - not because of anything parents have done.

If you’re pregnant and concerned about having a child with Down syndrome visit Pregnancy, Birth and Baby for more information on Down syndrome screening and diagnosis.

Health problems for people with Down syndrome

If you have Down syndrome, you may have a higher chance of some health problems than other people. You may also have lower immunity. This means you may get sick more often especially in early childhood.

People with Down syndrome have a higher risk of problems seeing or hearing. You will also tend to have gut or heart defects.

Everyone with Down syndrome has some degree of learning difficulty. You may need speech and language therapy to help you speak clearly.

A healthy diet and physical activity are important for everyone including people with Down syndrome. You have a higher risk than other people of:

Regular checks may be required for health problems including your teeth development.

There are many people with Down syndrome who are happy, healthy and leading independent lives but you may need more support to help you achieve the kind of life that most people take for granted.

More information

If you have Down syndrome or you are caring for someone with Down syndrome, speak to your doctor about any particular health concerns you have or require more information about.

You can also visit Down Syndrome Australia to find resources to help you with your health, education and employment. There are also organisations that you can contact in your state or territory:

Support for carers

Are you caring for someone with Down syndrome? Find practical information and useful resources for carers on Carer Gateway. You can also learn more about carers' support and services in your state or territory through Carers Australia.

Last reviewed: December 2015

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Found 113 results

Brain Foundation | Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Down Syndrome Description Down Syndrome is a birth disorder in which the baby has an extra copy of chromosome 21

Read more on Brain Foundation website

What is Down syndrome? | Down Syndrome Australia

Our bodies are made up of millions of cells. In each cell there are 46 chromosomes. The DNA in our chromosomes determines how we develop. Down syndrome is caused when there is an extra chromosome. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes in their cells instead of 46. They have an extra chromosome 21, which is why Down syndrome is also sometimes known as trisomy 21.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

Screening for Down syndrome

Information on the down syndrome screening test including what down syndrome is, what the screening test will tell you, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Caring for a child with Down syndrome

Children with Down syndrome are children, above all else. As babies they cry and sleep, and as they grow they walk and talk. If you’re caring for a child with Down syndrome, you might face some challenges different to other parents.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Down syndrome | Down Syndrome Australia

Within this area of the website you will find information relating to Down syndrome. We understand that sometimes lots of information can be overwhelming. If you are having difficulties finding the correct information relating to what you are searching for, we encourage you to contact us at info@downsyndrome.org.au.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

Health and wellbeing | Down Syndrome Australia

As recently as the 1950s, life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was as low as 15 years of age. In recent times, progress in medical and social sciences has very much improved the health and the quality of life enjoyed by people with Down syndrome. In Australia today, most people with Down syndrome will enjoy a long, happy and healthy life.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

Education and employment | Down Syndrome Australia

A quality education is key to improving an individual's life chances. This is no less true for people with Down syndrome. Different education options are available to people with Down syndrome however they vary depending on your state or territory. Please contact your local Down syndrome association for more details.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder characterised by mental and developmental impairments. The disorder is also known as 'trisomy 21' as it is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Prenatal information | Down Syndrome Australia

Down Syndrome Australia provides prenatal support and information including a prenatal fact sheet that contains easy-to-understand, factual and balanced information for people considering prenatal testing or if a test shows that a baby may have or does have Down syndrome.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

Prenatal testing for Down syndrome

You may find this information helpful if you are considering having prenatal testing or if you’ve had a test that shows your baby may have or does have Down syndrome.

Read more on Down Syndrome Australia website

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