Understanding Down Syndrome

(US) – October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month where organizations and the public work to bring awareness to and offer more understanding of the diagnosis.

During the month of October, those with Down syndrome are celebrated for their strengths, remarkable abilities, and accomplishments. Officials on upwithdowns.org note, “it’s not about celebrating disabilities, it’s about celebrating abilities. We can learn all about our history. We have a right to speak out about what it’s like to have Down syndrome and to learn the real story of people like us.”

Know the Facts:

  • Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
  • There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (accounts for 95% of cases), translocation and mosaicism.
  • Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition.
  • People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions.
  • All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate.
  • Positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
  • People with Down syndrome attend school, work, have meaningful relationships, vote, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 700 babies are born with Down syndrome in the United States each year. That’s about 6,000 babies!

In an effort to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome, CDC officials explain their National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) works with partners to learn about Down syndrome. Officials track information about those with Down syndrome and continue research to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

  • Tracking: Tracking where and when individuals with Down syndrome are born gives us important clues about opportunities to improve their health outcomes and help plan for services for them and their families.
  • Research: To understand the impact that Down syndrome has on children and their families, CDC and its partners conduct studies on health service use, survival, and other conditions that people with Down syndrome might have, such as autism or Alzheimer disease.
  • Improving the lives of individuals with Down syndrome: CDC provided funding to develop Brighter Tomorrows, an initiative to educate healthcare providers on how to counsel families of children with Down syndrome.


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