Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2014;90(12):online

See related article on the role of the family physician in the care of children with Down Syndrome.

What is Down syndrome?

It is a genetic condition that causes children to have more health problems and learning difficulties than other children. Finding out that your baby has Down syndrome can be stressful and confusing. Talk with your baby's doctor to find out more about Down syndrome and what it means for your family. Make sure that you take time to enjoy your new baby who, in most ways, will be just like any other baby.

Can I breastfeed my baby?

Yes, babies with Down syndrome can breastfeed like other babies, and breastfeeding is recommended. Some babies with Down syndrome may have more trouble feeding when they are very little. Getting help from a nurse or breastfeeding specialist in the hospital can help.

Will my child be able to go to school?

Yes, enrolling in early intervention programs as soon as possible will help your child reach his or her potential. Most children with Down syndrome can go to school. Many can be in the same classroom as other children their own age. Schools offer extra help to children with learning difficulties.

How do I care for my baby?

Ask your doctor when you should bring your baby in for visits. Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand what is recommended and why. Talk with your doctor if you have a concern about your baby. The first year of life is very important for growth and making sure that your baby is as healthy as possible.

Where can I get more information?


Brighter Tomorrows

D.A.D.S. (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome)

Medline Plus: Down syndrome

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Down Syndrome Society


Bodeen SA, DeVito P. We'll Paint the Octopus Red. Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House; 1998.

Hale N, Sternberg K. Oh Brother! Growing Up with a Special Needs Sibling. Washington, DC: Magination Press; 2004.

Marshak LE, Prezant F. Married with Special-Needs Children: A Couples' Guide to Keeping Connected. Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House; 2007.

Pueschel SM. A Parent’s Guide to DownSyndrome: Toward a Brighter Future.Baltimore, Md.: P.H. Brookes; 2008.

Skallerup SJ. Babies with Down Syndrome: ANew Parents’ Guide. 3rd ed. Bethesda, Md.;Woodbine House; 2008.

Skotko B, Levine SP. Fasten Your Seatbelt:A Crash Course on Down Syndrome forBrothers and Sisters. Bethesda, Md.:Woodbine House; 2009.

Soper KL. Gifts: Mothers Reflect on HowChildren with Down Syndrome Enrich TheirLives. Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House;2007.

Woloson E, Gough B. My Friend Isabelle.Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House; 2003.

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