700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Down Syndrome Awareness: Dispel the Misconceptions

Mar 21, 2023

Each year, about 6,000 children are born with Down Syndrome, a lifelong condition in which a person has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome (three copies of “trisomy” instead of 2). Down syndrome occurs in about 1 in 700 live births. While children and adults can have a variety of medical and developmental concerns including congenital heart disease, thyroid disease and sleep apnea, today many have fulfilling lives enhancing the lives of those around them.

People with Down syndrome might act and look similar; however, each person has different abilities. The 21st chromosome is about 1% of all of our DNA – the other 99% matters!  Children with Down syndrome will have delays in development, but they do best when therapies are started early, are in regular classes at school and have the needed supports to be the best version of themselves.  

Families who have a child with Down syndrome will often find strong support networks locally and nationally. The expectations and outcomes for those with Down syndrome has significantly changed over the years because of the work of these families.

Thoughtful Language

Words matter and how we speak sets the tone for interactions with families and individuals with Down syndrome. Take the extra time and care to describe a baby as an “infant with Down syndrome” and to use "Down syndrome" rather than "Down’s."

Families and individuals with Down syndrome appreciate this and it shows respect for the individual. Patient-first language shows that a medical condition or genetic syndrome does not define the patient and demonstrates it is simply one part of the whole person they are.

Families also do not want to hear the word “sorry” when discussing their son or daughter. They are not “sorry” they have a child with Down syndrome – they are proud of them and what they have accomplished! 

At Work

Businesses employ adults with Down syndrome for a variety of positions. They work in the music and entertainment industry, in clerical positions, childcare, the sports field and the computer industry, to name a few. Like anybody else, people with Down syndrome want to have a job where their work will be valued. They often are outgoing and enjoy working and being around others.

On Social Media

Social media is a great way to get the word out! Here are some ideas for social posts from the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS):

  • Down syndrome facts are great to share with your followers and encourage them to share as well. Did you know that adults with Down syndrome now have a life expectancy of 60? Did you know that Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels?
  • Dispel misconceptions about people with Down syndrome with the Myths and Truths page. Popular myths include that most children with Down syndrome are born to older parents, that people with Down syndrome are always happy, and that adults with Down syndrome are not able to build close interpersonal relationships that lead to marriage. Read how those myths are debunked and spread the word!
  • If you cringe when people use the "R-word," share a link to the NDSS’ preferred language guide and help educate your friends and family on the proper terms to use. Taking good care to use proper language is a great way to show respect.

At an Event

The National Down Syndrome Society, the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, hosts multiple events celebrating individuals with Down syndrome around the globe.

The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio (DSACO) also hosts events.

Nationwide Children's Hospital's Down Syndrome Clinic
Learn More

Featured Expert

Kandamurugu Manickam
Murugu Manickam, MD
Genetics and Genomic Medicine

Murugu Manickam, MD, MPH, FACMG, is a clinical geneticist/genomicist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as an associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics, with a joint appointment at the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University Medical Center. His specialty clinical interests are Down Syndrome and Neurofibromatosis but sees many rare clinical disorders. Additionally he is a national expert secondary findings from clinical testing and preventative.

All Topics

Browse by Author

Join On Our Sleeves

Sign up for behavioral health resources and information, advocacy opportunities and more.

Join the movement for children's mental health.

About this Blog

Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.