Down's syndrome

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:

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 can have the test at your dating scan (around 11 to 14 weeks).

If you have a higher chance, you can have further tests.

Important: Important

It's your choice whether or not to have any screening tests.


Find out more about screening:

Page last reviewed: 21 October 2019
Next review due: 21 October 2022