Down syndrome is a genetic condition, resulting when a baby is born with three, rather than the usual two, copies of chromosome 21. Because there are three copies of chromosome 21, Down syndrome is also called trisomy 21. With the third 21st chromosome existing in every cell, it is not surprising to find that every system in the body is affected in some way. Although, not every person with Down syndrome has the same problems or associated conditions.

Down syndrome is the most frequent occurring chromosomal abnormality, occurring once in every 690 live births. Over 350,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome. While the age of the mother can be a factor, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to parents under the age of 35 (the average age is 26).

When a child with Down syndrome is born, many people – from experts to family members – will tell parents they “know” what the child will accomplish. While there are guidelines regarding physical and cognitive development, it is impossible to predict the future of a child with Down syndrome – just as it is for any other child. No professional can look at a child and tell you how intelligent, successful or independent he or she will be in 20, 30 or 50 years.