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Down syndrome is a type of chromosomal disorder. It is caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome, which is usually the result of a random event that occurs during the formation of reproductive cells (eggs and sperm). This condition is associated with developmental delays, both physically and mentally. For example, some of the most common symptoms include:
  • Mental retardation
  • A flat facial profile
  • An upward slant to the eye
  • Poor muscle tone (hypotonia).
There are several established risk factors for this condition, such as:
  • Previously having a baby with Down syndrome
  • Increased maternal age.
There is no cure for Down syndrome, so treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and medical conditions that occur as a result of the disorder. Today, the life expectancy for people with this condition is commonly age 50 and beyond.
(For more information, including the history of the disorder, click Down Syndrome.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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