What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that occurs before birth. When cells divide abnormally (very early on in development), we are left with extra or missing chromosomes. Down syndrome typically occurs when there is an extra chromosome as a result of abnormal cell division. There is no cure for Down syndrome but many children diagnosed with this condition can still lead happy, normal lives.

What are the causes?

  • All or part of an extra chromosome (experts do not know what causes the extra chromosome). Most people have 46 chromosomes that tell their body how to develop. People with Down syndrome have more than 46 chromosomes which causes abnormal development of cells.

What are the risk factors?

  • Mother who is over 35 years old. The older the mother is, the higher her baby’s risk of Down syndrome.
  • Father who is over 40 years old
  • Brother or sister with Down syndrome

What can I do?

  • Ensure your child has regular medical exams
  • Provide a good learning environment and encourage physical activity and interaction with other children
  • Be patient, loving and understanding of your child’s condition


It is important to remember the health information found on this Web site is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your health care provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.


  • Distinct facial features (flat face, small ears, slanting eyes, small mouth)
  • Short neck
  • Short arms and legs
  • Weak muscles and loose joints (muscle tone usually improves by late childhood)
  • Below-average intelligence
Additional symptoms include:
  • Mental Retardation
  • Heart Defects - about half of children with Down syndrome are born with a heart defect
  • Diseases (hypothyroidism, celiac disease and eye conditions)


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