Down Syndrome

Medical treatments and developmental and educational therapies can help children with Down syndrome reach their fullest potential. When you have a child with Down syndrome, we understand that you may have a lot of questions and concerns. The Boston Children’s Hospital Down Syndrome Program is available, and when you meet with our team of experts, they can address your questions and talk to you about your child in more detail. We have provided some information and answers to common questions below.

Here are some of the basics about Down syndrome:

  • Down syndrome is a condition in which babies are born with extra genetic material from chromosome 21.
  • The extra chromosome is associated with other conditions such as varying degrees of developmental delay and intellectual disability, characteristic facial features, and increased risk of certain health conditions. The degree of these conditions varies greatly from child to child.
  • Down syndrome is the most common genetic birth defect, affecting approximately 1 in every 691 babies.
  • Down syndrome, itself, does not have a cure. But, treatment is available for many of the symptoms and conditions that can accompany the diagnosis.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is about 55-60 years, though average life span has increased greatly over the past 50 years and is still rising with some individuals with Down syndrome living into their eighties

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches Down syndrome:

At The Boston Children’s Hospital Down Syndrome Program we offer multidisciplinary clinical evaluations for people with Down syndrome from birth until the age of 22 years. Our program is within the Boston Children’s Hospital Developmental Medicine Center. With each appointment, we are also able to make referrals and connections with any of our other specialty clinics at Boston Children’s Hospital. We strive to provide resources, advocacy, and supports to all families, depending on their individual needs.

Down syndrome: Reviewed by Nicole T. Baumer and Emily Jean Davidson, MD © Boston Children’s Hospital, 2015