Facts about Down syndrome

In This Section

Down syndrome is a common congenital chromosomal anomaly. It is found worldwide. Down syndrome occurs when there is one extra copy of chromosome 21 in the body.

• Down syndrome is present at birth.

• The extra chromosome 21 material may affect the physical development and learning abilities of people with Down syndrome.

• Down syndrome is a lifelong condition.

• People with Down syndrome may share certain physical characteristics.

• Each child also inherits family traits and consequently can be more like their family than anybody else.

• Like any other child, children with Down syndrome vary in their abilities and achievements.

How many people in Ireland have Down syndrome?

It is estimated that there are approximately seven thousand people in Ireland with Down syndrome. One baby with Down syndrome is born out of every 546 births.

What are the usual health effects of having Down syndrome?

Children with Down syndrome have increased risk of certain health issues:

• Congenital heart defects

• Susceptibility to infection

• Hearing, vision, thyroid and respiratory problems

• Obstructive digestive and neurological problems and leukaemia

The life expectancy of people with Down syndrome is increasing, thus, the importance of life-long living and learning needs to be supported.