Down syndrome
Know about the causes, risk factors and health issues related to Down Syndrome. [Representational Image]Reuters

World Down Syndrome Day is observed on March 21 since United Nations started it in 2012 to raise awareness about the genetic disorder.

Down syndrome is a condition where the person suffering from it tends to have certain features like flat face, short neck and some degree of intellectual disability. It's a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that happens before birth. It varies from person to person.

Though Down syndrome is a lifelong condition, with care and support, children suffering from it can grow up to have healthy and productive lives. 

Causes of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is caused due to a problem in the chromosomes. Normally, a person has 46 chromosomes but most of the people with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes. However, in some rare cases, it can be caused due to other chromosome problems. And, having an extra chromosome or abnormal chromosome can change the way the body and the brain develop.


People with Down syndrome have more than 50 different features and every person with Down syndrome doesn't have the same features or health problems. Some of the common ones include short stature, low muscle tone (hypotonia) throughout the body, short and wide neck. Some children have a wide space between the big toe and second toe, WebMD mentioned.

Health issues related to Down Syndrome

Children with Down syndrome have health complications more than usual. Congenital heart defects are found in approximately 40 percent of the children with Down's Syndrome. They also have a higher incidence of infection, vision, hearing and respiratory problems. With proper medical care, children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of people with Down syndrome is 60 years, according to National Association for Down Syndrome.

Risk factors

Some parents have a greater risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. According to Mayo Clinic, the risk factor is more for women conceiving after 35 years of age. It is because older eggs have a greater risk of improper chromosome division. The risk is also more for people who have a brother or sister or another baby with Down Syndrome.