Downs Syndrome

So what is Down's syndrome and how does it affect those that have it?

Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, is a condition that some people are born with. But having Down's does not mean that a person cannot lead a healthy and very fulfilled life.

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What is it?


Down's syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when there is an extra copy of a specific chromosome: chromosome 21.

The term Down's Syndrome describes the features resulting from having an extra chromosome. It is not an illness.

The extra chromosome can affect a person's physical features, intellect, and overall development and it also increases the likelihood of some health problems.

Chromosomes explained

Our bodies are made up of cells that contain genes.

These genes are grouped in thread-like structures called chromosomes. The chromosomes hold instructions for who we are.

The DNA in all of your cells is approximately two metres long, except red blood cells which have none and sperm or eggs which only have about one metre. Because it is so long it is very thin and coiled into structures called chromosomes. The chromosomes are found in the nucleus of each cell.

Usually, cells contain 46 chromosomes: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father.

In people with Down's syndrome, all or some of the cells in their bodies contain 47 chromosomes instead, as there's an extra copy of chromosome 21.

In most cases, Down's syndrome is not inherited and it's just the result of a one-off genetic change in the sperm or egg.