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Down's syndrome

Down's syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome in your cells. This usually happens by chance at the time of conception. Only about 1 per cent of cases are inherited.

Children with Down's syndrome do have some common characteristics, and as a result, are often diagnosed shortly after birth.

Most babies born with Down's syndrome may present some common physical characteristics. However, they don't all look the same. They will look more like their family members, than like other children who have the syndrome. People with Down's syndrome also have different personalities and abilities.

Everyone born with Down's syndrome will have some degree of learning disability, but this will be different for each person.

How is the condition diagnosed?

All pregnant women are offered screening tests which can tell you how like it is. If tests show there's a chance your baby has Down's syndrome, further tests can confirm it.

These include:

If these tests show that your baby has Down's syndrome, you will be offered counselling. This is to discuss what this means for the baby, yourself, and your family. You may also be offered an appointment with a doctor who will tell you more about the condition.

See more about screening for Down's syndrome on the NHS website

Living with Down's syndrome

People with Down's syndrome may have very few additional health problems. However, some do require more medical support because they may have:

If you're worried about your child's health, talk to your GP, health visitor or paediatrician.

Find advice and support on the Down's syndrome website

Read more about the complications of Down syndrome on the NHS website.

Get in touch

Opening times

9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
9am to 5pm
Child Development Nursing Team

Wood Street Health Centre
6 Linford Road
London E17 3LA

What support is available?


Wood Street Health Centre runs play group sessions for children with complex needs such as Down's syndrome. Call: 0208 430 7787 or email to find out more.

SENDsuccess runs a playgroup for children with Down's syndrome.

When your child’s ready for nursery, the Early Years Inclusion Support Workers will support you. You can also apply for short breaks if you or your child need a break - your Health Visitor can tell you more about this.


Children with Down's syndrome are usually supported in mainstream school with additional help. This is set out in a document called an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). The type of support the child needs does vary, but can include:

  • Additional support in class
  • Certain teaching approaches
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy

Post 16

At 16 to 18, young people with Down's syndrome are usually referred to their GP for another health assessment.

See the ‘preparing for adulthood’ section to find out more about post-16 options.

Local and national groups

Read more about living with Down syndrome.

Facebook groups