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Down’s (or Down) Syndrome is when someone is born with an extra chromosome 21 in the cells of their body. It lasts for life and makes it harder for people to learn things.


What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has Down’s Syndrome?

Growing up with a brother or sister with Down’s syndrome can be lots of fun, but sometimes siblings might find it difficult. All brothers and sisters feel like this about each other sometimes.

A brother or sister who has Down’s syndrome will probably like the same sort of things that their siblings do, play the same games and like the same toys. Sometimes a sibling with Down’s syndrome might need extra help from their parents and other adults to join in and to play with games and toys and help them with other things through the day. This may sometimes make siblings feel left out, but most siblings really enjoy helping their brother or sister with Down’s syndrome too. Siblings might worry about how others feel about their brother or sister having Down’s syndrome and who is going to look after them when they are adults. Evidence tells us that most families of someone with Down’s syndrome are happy with their lives.

What causes Down’s Syndrome?

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that some babies are born with. They cannot get it after they are born, and it can’t be passed on to anyone else.

Inside our bodies are trillions of cells, and inside each cell are even smaller things called chromosomes which contain information that make each of us unique, such as our eye colour, hair colour and height.

Most people have 46 chromosomes in every cell in their body, 23 from their mum and 23 from their dad. Babies born with Down’s Syndrome have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21 – one extra chromosome that randomly happens. This means that they have 47 chromosomes instead of 46. It is this extra chromosome 21 that causes Down’s syndrome.

What does it mean?

Babies born with Down’s Syndrome will always have it as they grow up. It is not an illness or a disease, it is just a very small part of who they are.

Down’s syndrome is a form of learning disability. A learning disability affects how someone learns; it doesn’t mean they can’t learn. People who have Down’s syndrome go to nursery, school, and college; have jobs, have friends and relationships, and can live on their own. People who have Down’s syndrome can grow up to do amazing things. Some people with Down’s syndrome have become famous actors, models, singers, and Olympic athletes.

Children with Down’s syndrome will grow and develop the same way as all children and have the same range of feelings and emotions as we all do. Most importantly, everyone who has Down’s syndrome is a unique individual, full of potential with hopes and dreams just like you.

People who have Down’s syndrome are not all the same; every person who has the conditions is as individual as everyone else in the world. They have more in common with their families than with another person who has the same condition.

What treatment is there?

Down’s syndrome is a lifelong condition. It is not an illness or a disease and does not need treatment.

Generally, individuals with Down’s syndrome can live healthy and fulfilling lives as part of their families and communities.

Children born with Down’s syndrome have similar health conditions as for all children. Sometimes they might have lots of coughs and colds, or other health needs that mean they might see the doctor a little more often than other children.  Some babies with Down’s syndrome may have been born with heart issues, may have lower muscle tone or reduced hearing or vision. Regular health checks can make sure any health conditions are picked up early and managed.

Down’s syndrome is not a life-limiting condition. People with the condition can lead active and healthy lives into their 60s, 70’s and older.