Down's syndrome is when you're born with an extra chromosome.
You usually get an extra chromosome by chance, because of a change in the sperm or egg before you're born.
This change does not happen because of anything anyone did before or during pregnancy.
What it's like to have Down's syndrome
People with Down's syndrome will have some level of learning disability. This means they'll have a range of abilities.
Some people will be more independent and do things like get a job. Other people might need more regular care.
But, like everyone, people with Down's syndrome have:
- their own personalities
- things they like and dislike
- things that make them who they are
Having a baby with Down's syndrome
In almost all cases, Down's syndrome does not run in families.
Your chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome increases as you get older, but anyone can have a baby with Down's syndrome.
Speak to a GP if you want to find out more. They may be able to refer you to a genetic counsellor.
If you're pregnant, you'll be offered a screening test to find out your chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome.
You'll be offered the test between weeks 10 and 14 of pregnancy. It involves an ultrasound scan with a blood test. The blood test can be carried out at the same time as the 12-week scan.
If you have a higher chance, you can have further tests.
It's your choice whether or not to have any screening tests.
Find out more about screening:
Page last reviewed: 17 February 2023
Next review due: 17 February 2026