Here are some frequently asked questions about Down syndrome. This page has an Easy Read option.
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You may have some questions about Down syndrome. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 in all of the body’s cells. It happens at conception. This happens randomly and no one is to blame.

Statistically the chance of having a child with Down syndrome will increase with maternal age however around 70% of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers under thirty-five years of age. This is because mothers under the age of thirty-five have more children overall.

A diagnosis of Down syndrome refers to the presence of the additional chromosome 21. There are no levels or degrees of Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome have a range of abilities just like everyone else. 

There are some shared physical features of Down syndrome. However, people with Down syndrome have far more physical characteristics in common with their families.

People with Down syndrome have the same emotions as everyone else – which means they are not always happy. They can also be sad, angry, scared, joyful and excited. Their feelings can be hurt, or they can enjoy fun in social settings, just like their peers.

Many people with Down syndrome live independently. Often, they have support through NDIS to provide them with the assistance they need. Other people with Down syndrome may choose to live with their family. Independent living is becoming more common for adults with Down syndrome. Improvements in education, opportunities and most importantly, community attitudes, means more adults are living independently with varying levels of support. 

The average life expectancy in Australia for a person with Down syndrome is 60 years. Thanks to advances in medical diagnosis and treatment and changes to social attitudes, people with Down syndrome are living longer, meaningful and fulfilled lives.

There are a number of books available that can help children learn about Down syndrome.

My friend Isabelle is suitable for children aged 2-4 years. It is a story about two young friends and encourages young children to talk about differences in the world around them.

Prince Noah and the School Pirates is suitable for children aged 6-7 years old. It is a fairy tale about a young prince with Down syndrome.

47 strings: Tessa’s Special Code is a book for children aged 7-8 years. It is a picture book about a young girl named Tessa who has Down syndrome.

We’ll paint the octopus red tells the story of a 6 year old girl preparing for the birth of her new little brother.

Information on this website can be used to help you find general information about Down syndrome. Use the search function to find related information on specific topics. Due to the large number of students interested in doing assignments on Down syndrome, we are not able to answer your assignment questions directly. Please find more information at our Information for Students

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What causes Down syndrome?


People with Down syndrome have an extra number 21 chromosome in each cell, compared to other people.

This happens in babies before they are born. It is just a chance thing and it isn’t anyone’s fault.

Is it only older mothers who have babies with Down syndrome?

A other holding her daughter

Is it only older mothers who have babies with Down syndrome?

Older mothers have a bigger chance of having a baby with Down syndrome.

But it is usually younger women who are having babies, so most babies with Down syndrome have mothers aged under 35

Are there levels or degrees of Down syndrome?

A group of four young men together

No. People with Down syndrome are all individuals with different abilities, but there are no levels or degrees of Down syndrome.

Do people with Down syndrome all look alike?

A mother and a young child

People with Down syndrome might look a bit like each other, but they also look like their parents, brothers and sisters.

Are people with Down syndrome always happy?

A young woman with Down syndrome looks sad

No. People with Down syndrome have the same feelings as everyone else. So they can also feel sad, angry, hurt, scared and excited, as well as happy.

Can people with Down syndrome live independently?

A man pointing towards his house

Some people live with their families. But more people with Down syndrome are now living in their own place. They might get some help from NDIS to be independent.

How long do people with Down syndrome live?

A man with Down syndrome standing up

People are now living longer, better lives than before because of health care and being part of the community.

The average person with Down syndrome in Australia now lives to around 60 or more.

I am a student doing a project on Down syndrome. Can you help?

A man looks at a computer screen

You can find general information about Down syndrome on this website.

You can do a search on the website to find what you need. But we can’t answer individual student questions.