Facts About Down Syndrome

• Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three copies, instead of two, of the 21st chromosome. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder.

• In the U.S. more than 350,000 persons have Down syndrome.

• Since the 1980s, the life expectancy for persons with Down syndrome has more than doubled, from 23 to 55 years of age or older.

• We have come a long way in the U.S. in assisting individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Today many adults with Down syndrome hold jobs, pay taxes, participate in sports, fall in love, go to college and serve as volunteers in their communities.

• Some common physical traits are a single crease across the palm of the hand, short stature, low muscle tone and upward slanting eyes.

• Individuals with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as heart problems. With treatment, most persons with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

• Children with Down syndrome are first and foremost children. They are more alike other children than they are different.

• Most people with Down syndrome have some level of cognitive delay, but there is a wide spectrum of mental abilities.

• Families with a child with Down syndrome have lower rate of divorce.

• Many siblings of children with Down syndrome have an increased awareness of special needs and develop a compassionate and caring outlook.

For more information, see the "Down Syndrome Facts" page at the National Association for Down Syndrome website.