About Down Syndrome

The future is bright for people living with Down syndrome.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is the most common genetic variation, occurring in about one of every 691 live births. Approximately 206,000 people living in the United States have Down syndrome. Although researchers have not yet determined its cause, we know that Down syndrome results from an extra 21st chromosome and affects people of all ages, races and economic levels.

Most children born with Down syndrome will experience some delay in physical, cognitive and/or language development. Like all people, however, those with Down syndrome vary widely in their mental and physical abilities. Children with Down syndrome are also at higher risk for certain medical conditions, but with early detection and treatment, most conditions can be eliminated or minimized.

With loving homes, available therapies, advanced medical care, better education and greater social acceptance, people with Down syndrome can live full and satisfying lives. Each year, more teens and adults with Down syndrome graduate from high school, go to college, find employment and live independently. Today, as awareness and acceptance grow, there are more opportunities than ever before for people with Down syndrome.

More DS Facts

More detailed information about Down syndrome is available online through the National Down Syndrome Congress or National Down Syndrome Society. Depending on your needs, the following resources provide accurate and comprehensive information about Down syndrome.

On Prenatal Testing
- Prenatal Testing Pamphlet (read online in English or Spanish)
Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis

On Down Syndrome Generally
NDSC Down Syndrome Brochure

DS Informational Videos

Awareness videos can also be helpful resources when learning about Down syndrome:
Faces of Orange County
Just Like You - Down Syndrome
Dear Future Mom
50 Mums 50 Kids 1 Extra Chromosome
We're More Alike Than Different

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact DSF at info@dsfoc.org.

DS Fast Facts (from NDSC):

  • Down syndrome is a common genetic variation that usually causes delay in physical, intellectual, and language development
  • The exact causes of the chromosomal rearrangement and primary prevention of Down syndrome are currently unknown
  • Down syndrome is one of the leading clinical causes of cognitive delay in the world - it is not related to race, nationality, religion, or socio-economic status
  • The incidence of Down syndrome in the United States is estimated to be 1 in every 700 live births
  • Of all children born in this country annually, approximately 5,000 will have Down syndrome
  • There are approximately a quarter of a million families in the United States affected by Down syndrome
  • While the likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increases with maternal age, 80 percent of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age, as women in that age group give birth to more babies overall
  • There is wide variation in mental abilities, behavior, and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome; each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities, and talents
  • 30–50 percent of the individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8–12 percent have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth; most of these defects are now correctable by surgery
  • Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care, and positive public attitudes
  • In adulthood, many persons with Down syndrome hold jobs, live independently, and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities

(Click here to navigate to NDSC Website for more information)