Guide: What is Down's syndrome?

  • 29 October 2013
Ruben

Down's syndrome is a genetic condition which can affect a child's learning and physical features.

About one in every thousand babies is born with Down's syndrome and it is permanent.

It is not a disease and people with Down's syndrome aren't sick or suffering from an illness. You can't catch Down's syndrome.

How are people affected?

Every child is different but most children with Down's syndrome have some difficulty learning.

Some children with Down's syndrome experience speech problems but not all.

Most people with Down's syndrome walk and talk, go to ordinary schools, play sport and lead a fairly typical life.

Many children with Down's syndrome share common physical characteristics - but also resemble their parents, like we all do.

How common is it?

In the UK, about 750 babies a year are born with Down's syndrome.

There are about 60,000 people in the UK with Down's syndrome.

It occurs completely by chance in all races, in all countries across the world.

What is life like for children with Down's syndrome?

Down's syndrome is named after Doctor John Langdon Down who first published information about the condition in 1866.

Since then we've learned a lot more about the condition and the support children with Down's syndrome need.

Today children with Down's syndrome can lead lives are varied as anybody else.

This page was written with contributions from the Down's Syndrome Association and NHS Choices.