What is Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a life-long condition that may cause delays in learning and development.

  • Down syndrome cannot be cured but with early intervention and the right support networks your child can flourish.
  • Down syndrome occurs when a person’s cells contain an extra chromosome number 21.
  • Down syndrome is never anyone’s fault: it just happens
  • It has never been linked with foods, actions or pollution and it occurs in all races and religions.
  • In New Zealand approximately one in about 1000 is born with Down syndrome: that is one or more babies born every week.

The Features of Down Syndrome

It is important to remember that:

  • Each person is unique with different features
  • People look like the rest of their family.  The Down syndrome accounts for only part of their looks.
  • The abilities and achievements of people with Down syndrome are not linked to their appearance.

Common features may include:

  • Low muscle tone (hypotonia is the medical term) and flexible joints
  • Excess skin on the back of the neck
  • Almond shaped eyes
  • Small ears
  • A single crease across the palm of the hand/s
  • A gap between the big toe and the second toe
  • The nasal bone may be flatter than usual