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Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome.
At age 30, for example, a woman has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of conceiving a child with DS. Low muscle tone (called hypotonia) is also characteristic of children with DS, and babies in particular may seem especially "floppy." Though this can and often does improve over time, most children with DS typically reach developmental milestones — like sitting up, crawling, and walking — later than other kids.
At birth, kids with DS are usually of average size, but they tend to grow at a slower rate and remain smaller than their peers.
Kids with Down syndrome are also at an increased risk of developing pulmonary hypertension, a serious condition that can lead to irreversible damage to the lungs.
All infants with Down syndrome should be evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist.
It's this extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with DS.
Although no one knows for sure why DS happens and there's no way to prevent the chromosomal error that causes it, scientists do know that women age 35 and older have a significantly higher risk of having a child with the condition. Kids with Down syndrome tend to share certain physical features such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small ears, and a protruding tongue.
Down syndrome affects kids' ability to learn in different ways, but most have mild to moderate intellectual impairment.
Kids with DS can and do learn, and are capable of developing skills throughout their lives.
Genes carry the information that determines your traits (features or characteristics passed on to you from your parents).
With Down syndrome, the extra chromosome causes delays in the way a child develops, mentally and physically.