Down Syndrome in Children

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes a number of physical and intellectual differences.

Children born with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21 in all the cells in their bodies. This extra chromosome changes how a baby’s body and brain develop.

With the right health care and support, many children with Down syndrome enjoy long, happy, full and independent lives.

    Remarkable Care for Kids

    • Comprehensive care for this complex condition: Physicians from more than 30 specialties at Rush University Children’s Hospital collaborate to provide your child with comprehensive care that addresses the complexities of Down syndrome.
    • Emotional support for you and your child: Rush offers family-centered services and support to help your child and family work through any emotional and psychological challenges you may experience.
    • Leaders in Down syndrome research: Physicians at Rush University Children’s Hospital have international reputations for their contributions to Down syndrome research.
    • Genetic testing and counseling: The Section of Genetics at Rush provides a full range of services for diagnosis, counseling and treatment for you and your children who have or are concerned about genetic and congenital conditions.
    • Prenatal testing and support: The Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center offers prenatal testing and diagnosis for Down syndrome. The center’s specialized team of neonatologists, genetics counselors and social workers provide expert support, evaluation and treatment during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
    • Expert care for heart defects: Half of all children with Down syndrome are born with a heart defect. At Rush, your child will be treated by experts in the Rush Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Program.

    Down syndrome: what you should know 

    • Down syndrome is one of the most common genetic conditions, occurring in one in 800 to one in 1,000 births.
    • Children with Down syndrome usually have mild to moderate intellectual disability. They tend to reach their milestones, such as first words, crawling and walking, later than other children.
    • Children with Down syndrome have an increased risk for a number of other health conditions, which can include the following:

    Care for Down syndrome at Rush

    In addition to expert medical care, the following specialties can help children — and adults — with Down syndrome develop and maintain their health and skills:

    • Occupational therapy teaches your child to perform tasks and overcome feeding challenges.
    • Speech therapy focuses on improving your child’s language skills.
    • Physical therapy improves movement abilities.
    • Behavioral training and counseling can help you and your child manage and understand the behavioral challenges of Down syndrome.
    • Nutritional counseling from registered dieticians can help you and your child learn about healthy eating to prevent obesity, a common problem for older children and adults with Down syndrome.