Prognosis for People with Down Syndrome

Although the prognosis (expected outcome) for children who have Down syndrome depends on the severity of medical problems and complications that develop, it has improved over the years. In 1910, the life expectancy of a child born with the condition was 9 years. Today, because of improved medical technology and early intervention, 80 percent of people with Down syndrome live to age 55 and many live even longer.

Quality of life also has improved for many children with Down syndrome, but living with the condition is not without difficulties. Generally, children with Down syndrome are able to attend school. Whether the child is placed in a regular (mainstream) classroom or in special education often depends on his or her abilities. Some children go to mainstream classrooms for particular subjects only. Many children with Down syndrome learn to read and write and enjoy the same activities as other kids their age, such as sports, art, and music programs.

As adults, people with Down syndrome may live with their families or in community group homes, where they often are able to take care of their own needs. They may work in offices, nursing homes, hotels, restaurants, and other places of employment. People who have Down syndrome may marry and have children; however, pregnant women with the condition are at high risk for miscarriage.

Down Syndrome Prevention

Some couples see a genetic counselor before becoming pregnant to discuss their risk for Down syndrome, but ultimately the condition cannot be prevented. Some research has suggested that women who give birth to a baby with Down syndrome might have a problem processing folic acid, but that has not been confirmed.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015