Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z: Down Syndrome

May also be called: Trisomy 21

Down syndrome (DS) also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes contain hundreds, or even thousands, of genes. Genes carry the information that determines your traits (features or characteristics passed on to you from your parents). With Down syndrome, this extra chromosome causes delays in the way a child develops, mentally and physically.

More to Know

Normally a baby inherits genetic information from its parents in the form of 46 chromosomes: 23 from each parent. In most cases of Down syndrome, a child gets an extra number 21 chromosome — for a total of 47 chromosomes. This extra genetic material is responsible for the physical features and developmental delays of Down syndrome.

It is not known why Down syndrome happens, but scientists do know that women age 35 and older have a higher risk of having a child with the condition, and the risk increases with age.

Some characteristic features of people with Down syndrome include a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small stature, low muscle tone, and a single deep crease across the palm. Most children with DS reach developmental milestones later than other kids, but the degree to which a person is affected by DS can vary greatly.

Most, but not all, people with DS will experience other significant health problems related to Down syndrome such as congenital heart defects; respiratory, vision, and hearing problems; Alzheimer's disease; childhood leukemia; and thyroid disorders. Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable.

Keep in Mind

People with Down syndrome have varying degrees of intellectual difficulties, but they are quite capable of developing loving relationships and have many talents to share. Medical advances also allow people with DS to live longer, fuller lives than ever before.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.