Facts About Down Syndrome

  • Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.
  • Down syndrome is a genetic condition, not a disease
  • Down syndrome is named after the British physician John Langdon Down, who classified the chromosomal abnormality in 1862.
  • One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition.
  • There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
  • The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
  • People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

Language Guide

  • People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. We say a child with Down syndrome, not a Down syndrome child. Also avoid saying a Down’s person or she has Down’s
  • People have Down syndrome; they do not suffer from Down syndrome
  • People with Down syndrome have developmental delays, as opposed to typical (not normal) children
  • Intellectual disability or cognitive disability has replaced mental retardation
  • The use of the word retarded is extremely hurtful to the families of people with Down syndrome


Fact Sheet and Language Guide

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Hoja de datos sobre el síndrome de Down

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Adults with Down Syndrome Have Answers

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