Down syndrome awareness: 31 facts

Happy Halloween! Instead of the traditional Halloween trick-or-treating post I am going to wrap up Down syndrome awareness month by recapping the facts I have been sharing daily on facebook, instagram and twitter.

  1. There are more than 400,000 people in the us with Down syndrome.
  2. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition. 1/691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
  3. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or extra copy of chromosome 21; therefore, they have 47 chromosomes instead of 46
  4. There are 3 types of Down syndrome – trisomy 21 (nondisjunction), translocation, and mosaicism. Trisomy 21 is the most common.
  5. The incidence of Down syndrome increases with the age of the mom but 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to moms under 35. Why? They are having more babies.
  6. The common physical traits of Down syndromeDown syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, upward slant to the eyes, single deep crease in the center of  the palm. The degree varies with each individual.
  7. Those with Down syndrome have an increased risk of congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, and thyroid conditions.
  8. Life expectancy is increasing for those with Down syndrome from 25 in 1983 to 60 today!
  9. Those with Down syndrome can go to school, work, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
  10. All with Down syndrome have cognitive delays but it is usually mild.
  11. Quality home care and education is essential to those with Down syndrome to lead a life to their full potential.
  12. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconmic status.
  13. Babies with Down syndrome are feared in some countries and sent immediately out of the home – they are viewed as a curse.
  14. Down syndrome is usually identified at birth or shortly afterwards based on physical characteristics.
  15. A chromosome study (karotype) confirms the diagnosis of Down syndrome by grouping chromosomes by size, number, and shape. Doctors can use blood or tissue samples.
  16. Prenatal screening is available – the triple screen is done between 15-20 weeks and measures various substances in the blood but there is a high occurrence of false negatives and false positives.
  17. Sonagrams can discern some physical traits associated with Down syndrome.
  18. Prenatal diagnostic tests are available for Down syndrome: amniocentesis between 12 and 20 wks, chorionic villus samples between 8-12 wks, percutaneous blood sampling after 20 wks.
  19. Down syndrome is caused by an error in cell division. The cause is unknown but the error occurs at conception. The mom did nothing wrong during pregnancy.
  20. Children with Down syndrome are more like other children than different. Inclusion is important!
  21. Those with Down syndrome need early intervention for physical, speech, and developmental therapies. This is lacking in countries that fear Down syndrome.
  22. Children with Down syndrome can attend neighborhood schools and some can attend regular classes although some may need special education classes if they have more specialized needs. In the last several years, the average IQ of a person with Down syndrome has increased. Down syndrome kids can attend college – it is  not out of the question.
  23. Many adults with Down syndrome are capable of working in the community and giving back.
  24. Newborns with Down syndrome need an echocardiogram to identify any heart problems 40% of the kids have congenital heart defects.
  25. In the United States, Down syndrome is the LEAST funded major genetic condition. This is shocking since 1/691 babies are born with Down syndrome.
  26. Down syndrome is named after the English doctor, John Langdon Down, who first categorized the common features.
  27. Dr. Jerome LeJeune discovered that Down syndrome is a genetic disorder with three copies of chromosome 21 versus 2. In the rare forms of Down syndrome not all of the chromosome is tripled and the extra chromosome isn’t in all cells.
  28. In the case of hereditary Translocation Down syndrome (a rare one to two percent of all people with Down syndrome), an extra chromosome 21 is inherited from one of the parents.
  29. 38% of americans know someone with Down syndrome. Do you?
  30. By law, people with Down syndrome in the United States must be provided an appropriate and free public education.
  31. Some people with Down syndrome live independently or in an assisted independent arrangement. They are just like you and me and a small but growing number have a romantic relationship and even get married.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful to be matched with Toby. He has Down syndrome. You can read more about him HERE.
Daily Affirmation: I made a difference today.


  1. I knew very little about this. Thanks for highlighting Down's syndrome.

  2. Great post. One of my dear friends, an accomplished athlete (she's an Ironman finisher!) has a son with Downs. She advocates for him like no one I've ever seen. And he's doing amazing things!

    ~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home


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