What is Down's syndrome?

Down's syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome in your cells. In the majority of cases it can not be inherited, and occurs by chance at the time of conception.

People with Down's syndrome will typically have some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features.

There are some health problems associated with Down’s syndrome, such as heart problems and difficulties with sight and hearing, but these will not affect everyone with the condition.

Down's syndrome and learning disability

A person with Down’s syndrome will have some degree of learning disability, but the level of ability will be different for each individual.

A child with Down's syndrome might take longer than other children their age to reach certain milestones and to develop certain skills. They may also need ongoing support for different aspects of their life when they become an adult.

As with other conditions associated with learning disability, every person with Down’s syndrome is an individual and, with the right support and opportunities, can lead a happy and fulfilling life.

"I'm excited about his future"

"With each year that passes my son, Seb, teaches me something new. Something that no text book or leaflet ever could have.

With each step of the journey he fills my being with so much pride I could burst. He is a boy, an individual, not a syndrome. He is a reflection of his upbringing and his typical family life. Our family that is enriched, beyond measure, with him in it."

Read Caroline's story

Living with Down's syndrome

People with Down's syndrome will live with the condition for their whole life, but there are ways to help children develop into healthy adults who are able to live the lives they choose. This includes:

  • access to good healthcare
  • early intervention programmes to provide support for children and parents
  • good relationships and family life
  • education and support groups.

Increased awareness and better healthcare mean the health and wellbeing of people with Down’s syndrome have improved a lot in recent years.

People with Down's syndrome are able to leave home, form relationships and gain employment, just like anyone else.

Advice and support

For more information and advice about Down's syndrome, contact our helpline.

The Down's Syndrome Association also offer lots of information and support.

Get in touch, we're here for you

Mencap Direct is a free help and advice line. Our team can offer advice, information and discuss what support Mencap can offer tailored to your needs, in your area.

Call or email us

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