For Kids

Do a Lot of People Have Down Syndrome?

About 1 out of every 800 babies born in the United States has Down syndrome, no matter what race or nationality the parents are. It is not contagious, so you can’t catch it from someone else. You are born with it. No one gets Down syndrome later in life.

Now you know that Down syndrome is caused by a problem with a chromosome. You might already know that we get our chromosomes from our mother and father. Remember the 23 pairs of chromosomes — half are from your mom and half are from your dad.

But doctors aren’t sure why this chromosome problem happens to some babies. It’s nothing the mom or dad did before the child was born. Anyone can have a baby with Down syndrome. But the older the mother, the greater the risk.

Times Have Changed

At one time, most kids with Down syndrome did not live past childhood. Many would often become sick from infections. Others would die from their heart problems or other problems they had at birth. Today, most of these health problems can be treated and most kids who have it will grow into adulthood.

Medicines can help with infections and surgery can correct heart, intestinal, and other problems. If the person gets leukemia, medical treatments can be very successful.

Down syndrome is something a person will have all of his or her life. But scientists continue to do research in the hope of finding ways to prevent Down syndrome or at least improve the health and lives of people who have it.

What’s Life Like for Kids With Down Syndrome?

Many kids with Down syndrome go to regular schools and may attend regular classes. Some need special classes to help them in areas where they have more trouble learning. Their parents work with teachers and others to come up with a plan for the best way for each child to learn. Kids with Down syndrome like their playtime, too. They play sports and participate in activities, such as music lessons or dance classes.

Kids with Down syndrome may look different, but they want to be treated the same way all kids want to be treated — with respect, fairness, and friendship.

(This information provided from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/birth_defect/down_syndrome.html)

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