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In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
How Common is Down Syndrome?
One in every 691 babies in the the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year.
- Brighter Tomorrows
Brighter Tomorrows is a web-based resource for parents who have received a diagnosis of Down Syndrome either prenatally or at birth. The site provides answers to common questions, educates about Down Syndrome and shares the stories of other parents with similar situations.
- Down Syndrome Pregnancy
This site provides information and support to expectant parents preparing for the birth of a baby with Down Syndrome.
- International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association
Offers support and resources to families of and individuals with mosaic Down syndrome through the lifespan
- Medline Plus: Health Topics – Down Syndrome
An overview and list of resources on Down syndrome and prenatal testing from Medline Plus, a service of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health
- National Society of Genetic Counselors
Find members of NSGC through the Find A Genetic Counselor search function