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Down syndrome is set of mental and physical symptoms that result from having an extra copy of Chromosome 21. Normally, a fertilized egg has 23 pairs of chromosomes. In most people with Down syndrome, there is an extra copy of Chromosome 21 (also called trisomy 21 because there are three copies of this chromosome instead of two), which changes the body’s and brain’s normal development.
The chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as a woman gets older—from about 1 in 1,250 for a woman who gets pregnant at age 25, to about 1 in 100 for a woman who gets pregnant at age 40.
Even though people with Down syndrome may have some physical and mental features in common, symptoms of Down syndrome can range from mild to severe. Usually, mental development and physical development are slower in people with Down syndrome than in those without the condition.
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs) is a disability that causes limits on intellectual abilities and adaptive behaviors (conceptual, social, and practical skills people use to function in everyday lives). Most people with Down syndrome have IQs that fall in the mild to moderate range of IDDs. They may have delayed language development and slow motor development.
Some common physical signs of Down syndrome include:
There are a variety of other health conditions that are often seen in people who have Down syndrome, including:
Down syndrome is not a condition that can be cured. However, early intervention can help many people with Down syndrome live productive lives well into adulthood.
Children with Down syndrome can often benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy, and exercises for gross and fine motor skills. They might also be helped by special education and attention at school. Many children can integrate well into regular classes at school. For more information about treatments for Down syndrome, visit one of the Web sites provided below or ask your health care provider.