Down Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Can Down syndrome be prevented?

Down syndrome is not an illness or disease to be prevented but instead, an unexplained error in replicating DNA, genes, and chromosomes at the earliest stages of embryo development.

There is a relationship between the age of the mother and the risk of having a child with Down syndrome. The overall frequency of a Down child is approximately 1 in 691 live births, but the older the mother, the higher the frequency. For mothers 34 years old and younger, Down syndrome frequency is 1 in 1,500 live births and the frequency gradually rises, so that for mothers older than age 45, it is 1 in 50 live births.

For couples who have a child with Down syndrome, there is increased risk to have a second child with Down syndrome. Women with Down syndrome are capable of becoming pregnant and are at increased risk of having another child with Down syndrome.

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics


"Birth Defects." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 July 2013.

"Calculation of the risk of Down's syndrome." Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/22/2016

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