Down Syndrome Health and Medical Information

Providing current and correct information and insights on specific Down syndrome effects on health.

Information about Down Syndrome for Expectant Parents

Download a copy of Information about Down Syndrome for Expectant Parents
Télécharger Information sur la Trisomie 21 pour les Futurs Parents (en fraincais)

This resource was created to support informed decision making and ensure that medical professionals and expectant parents have access to accurate and up to date information about Down syndrome.

For Medical Professionals: A Guide to Giving a Down Syndrome Determination

Your first words to a family have a lifelong impact. The first words to any parent should always be “Congratulations”! As a medical health professional, you are in a position to create a lasting impression when speaking to expectant or new parents of a child with Down syndrome.

We encourage all medical professionals to become familiar about giving a Down syndrome determination and speaking with the family.

•Share the information in the most supportive environment as possible-preferably in person. If appropriate, suggest their partner or support person to attend.
•Encourage the parents to ask any questions of the medical professionals.
Use accurate and up to date information about Down syndrome. Have balanced information available for the expectant parents.
•Assure the parents that the medical teams/professionals are available to answer questions initially, during follow up and by phone or email if available.
•Reassure parents that Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement and is not a disease. It has nothing to do with what they did or did not do to cause the child to have Down syndrome

Dealing with Initial Feelings and Adjusting

•Keep in mind, these are new parents and the birth of any baby is happy news.
•Parents will react differently to learning their child has or may have Down syndrome, but show concern and support during a more challenging time.
•Remind them that they are not alone on this journey and they may want to connect with other parents and families who have a child with Down syndrome. Ask if they would like to be connected with a local Down syndrome group or arrange for a parent visit.
•Plan for a follow up visits, phone calls or further referrals as many parents may feel overwhelmed upon the initial determination.

Medical Considerations

With appropriate medical interventions and treatment, most people with Down syndrome can live healthy lives. In 1983, people with Down syndrome only lived to about 25, now the average is 60 years old. However, as with anyone else, there is no definitive life span and some people with Down syndrome have lived well into their 70s. (Global Down Syndrome Foundation)

Some health concerns for people with Down syndrome may include: 

• Congenital heart conditions
• Gastrointestinal issues
• Sleep issues
• Respiratory infections
• Thyroid problems
• Vision and hearing problems
• Increased risk of developing childhood leukemia

It is important to remember that not all people with Down syndrome will experience these health concerns. Most health issues associated with people with Down syndrome also occur in the general population and in many cases, the health conditions can be successfully treated and managed by careful monitoring.

COVID-19 Resources and Statements

These resource links are provided by organizations in the Down syndrome community as well as international health organizations.   The Canadian Down Syndrome Society strives to provide the most up to date and accurate information about COVID-19 to help individuals and families respond to the demands of the situation.  Please see visit your provincial health authority websites for the latest updates in your community.

CDSS Statements

Human Rights Statement: A Response to the COVID-19 Crisis in Canada Focusing on the Health & Well-Being of Persons with Down Syndrome

Government of Canada Resources

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Outbreak update:

International Resources

Q&A on COVID-19 and Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome International

World Health Organization


Mass General Hospital for Children Down Syndrome Program

Down Syndrome Ireland

French Language Resources

RT21 Regroupement pour la Trisomie 21

Green Mountain Advocates Easy Read Resource FRENCH

Plain Language Easy Read/View Resources

Green Mountain Advocates Easy Read Resource ENGLISH

Brain POP Coronavirus Video

Managing Wellness and Mental Health

Canadian Mental Health Association

Council for Intellectual Disability               

Special Olympics Canada