Down’s syndrome

A baby with Down’s syndrome is born with more of chromosome 21 in some or all of the cells that make up their DNA. It’s also known as Trisomy 21.

People with Down’s syndrome may lead active, healthy and independent lives into their 60s, 70s and beyond.

Most will have mild to moderate learning disabilities and some may have more complex needs.

It cannot be known before birth if a person will need any additional help and support.

Living with Down’s syndrome

There are increasing opportunities and support in education, work and housing for people with Down’s syndrome.

People with Down’s syndrome can live healthy and fulfilling lives as part of their families and communities.

Some may:

  • live independently
  • have jobs
  • be in relationships
  • socialise with minimal support.

Evidence suggests most families of people with the condition feel satisfied with their lives.

Many children with Down’s syndrome attend mainstream school and receive additional support if they need it.

Congenital and rare condition register

Babies with Down’s syndrome are included in the secure congenital and rare condition (CARDRISS) register. The register is maintained by Public Health Scotland.

The register records how many babies have this condition, and some relevant personal information.

It’s also used to support the planning and improvement of health, care, and other public services.

Read more about CARDRISS

Down’s syndrome and health

Many children with Down’s syndrome have similar health conditions to all children.

Some health conditions can be more common in people with Down’s syndrome, but some are less common.

  • Around half of all children with Down’s syndrome will have heart issues, although fewer than 1 in 5 of those may need surgery.
  • They’re more likely to have muscle tone and digestion issues and may have reduced hearing or vision.
  • However, they’re less likely to develop some cancers and types of heart disease.

Regular health checks can make sure any health conditions are picked up early and managed.

Down’s syndrome is not a life-limiting condition. People with the condition can lead active, healthy and fairly independent lives into their 60s, 70s and beyond.

Screening for Down’s syndrome

During your pregnancy you’ll be offered a screening test to detect if your baby might have Down’s syndrome.

All pregnant women, no matter what age, can be tested.

blood test and nuchal translucency (NT) scan can be used to screen for this condition.

Further information

You can get more information about Down’s syndrome and find out about life with a child with the condition at Down’s Syndrome Scotland.

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Source: Down's Syndrome Scotland - Opens in new browser window

Last updated:
26 June 2024