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Parenting a Child With Down Syndrome

Who is at Risk for Having a Child With Down Syndrome?

These are the most common factors that increase your risk for having a child with Down syndrome:

  • Maternal age. Women who become pregnant later in life are at higher risk than younger woman for having a child with Down syndrome. In fact, the chances of having a child with Down syndrome increases from 1 in 1,250 for a 25-year-old woman, to 1 in 100 for a woman age 40. Although a woman of any age can have a child with Down syndrome, women older than 35 are considered to be at higher risk.
  • Previous child with Down syndrome. If you have already had a child with Down syndrome, you are at increased risk of having another.
  • Medical history. If you or your partner has a history of chromosomal abnormalities, you are also at increased risk.

All pregnant women of any age should be given the choice to have antenatal screening for Down syndrome. If the risk of the baby having an abnormality is calculated to be more than 1 in 250, a diagnostic test will be offered.

Diagnostic tests for Down syndrome and certain other birth abnormalities include chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. These tests are 98 to 99 percent accurate in detecting a child with Down syndrome in a pregnant woman.

Early Intervention and Education for a Child With Down Syndrome

Early intervention programs that integrate special education and speech and physical therapy has been shown to boost the developmental potential of children with Down syndrome.

Most children with Down syndrome start at mainstream schools, but some parents will choose special schools or schools that have programs tailored for their child. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, you can be proactive to ensure that your child gets the support and education he needs and to which he is legally entitled.

Although the skills and abilities of people with Down syndrome vary greatly, many grow up to live independently or in supportive group environments, and to hold down jobs.

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