Contact Us Resource Guide Donate Volunteer Membership

Donate Now



Become a Member

About Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition which is the most commonly occurring chromosomal abnormality.  It occurs in one out of approximately 700 births and affects people of all races and economic levels.  Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st  chromosome.  This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. 

All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions like congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions.  Many of these are now treatable, with the result that most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. 

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.  Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. 

People with Down syndrome are active participants in educational, vocational, social and recreational activities in their communities.  They are included in general education classrooms, attend college, hold jobs, have friends and marry.  People with Down syndrome are valued members of their families and communities, and contribute to society in a variety of ways.  Remember that people with Down syndrome are more like everyone else than different.

Quality education programs; a stimulating home environment; good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community help people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

A Life with Down Syndrome is a Life Worth Living

Did You Know?


Down syndrome is one of the most commonly occurring chromosomal conditions.  Each year, one in approximately every 700 live births is a baby born with Down syndrome.

Most people with Down syndrome have IQs that fall in the mild to moderate range of retardation. Children with Down syndrome are definitely educable, and educators and researchers are still discovering the full educational potential of people with Down syndrome.

The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother.  However, due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.

In 1910, children with Down syndrome were only expected to live to age nine. Today, with recent advancements in clinical treatment, notably corrective heart surgery, life expectancy is age 60.

Up to 50% of infants with Down syndrome are born with congenital heart conditions. The majority of these heart conditions can be surgically corrected with resulting long-term health improvements. 

There is wide variation in mental abilities, behavior and physical development in people with Down syndrome.  Each person has his or her own personality, capabilities and talents.

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan is an affiliate of:
National Down Syndrome CongressDown Syndrome Affiliates in Action