Facts & Myths About Down Syndrome

MYTH: Down syndrome is a rare disorder.

TRUTH: Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, or approximately 6,000 births per year. Today, there are more than 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States.

MYTH: People with Down syndrome have a short life span.

TRUTH: Life expectancy for individuals with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent years, with the average life expectancy approaching that of peers without Down syndrome.

MYTH: Down syndrome is hereditary and runs in families.

TRUTH: In 99% of cases. Down syndrome is completely random and the only known factor that increases the risk is the age of the mother (over 35).  Translocation is the only type of Down syndrome known to have hereditary link.  Translocation accounts for 3 to 4% of all cases of Down syndrome.  Of those, one third (or 1% of all cases of Down syndrome) are hereditary.

MYTH: Most children with Down syndrome are born to older parents.

TRUTH: Most children with Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35 years old simply because younger women have more children. However, the incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother.

MYTH: People with Down syndrome have severe cognitive delays.

TRUTH: Most people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays that are mild to moderate. Children with Down syndrome fully participate in public and private educational programs.

MYTH: Parents will not find community support in bringing up their child with Down syndrome.

TRUTH: In almost every community of the United States there are parent support groups and other community organizations directly involved in providing services to families of individuals with Down syndrome.