Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome.  This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome.  Down Syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition; one in every 691 babies in the US is born with Down Syndrome.  There are more than 400,000 people living with Down Syndrome in the US and 4 million worldwide.  The incidents of birth of children with Down Syndrome increases with the age of the mother, but due to higher fertility rates in younger woman, 80% of children with Down Syndrome are born to woman under the age of 35 years of age.

People with Down Syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood Leukemia and Thyroid conditions.  Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down Syndrome lead healthy lives.  A few of the common physical traits of Down Syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.  Every person with Down Syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. 

Life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.  People with Down Syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many ways.  All people with Down Syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.  Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down Syndrome to realize their life aspirations and lead fulfilling lives.

Scientist are discovering the origins of learning difficulties in persons with Down Syndrome and have identified multiple pathways contributing to cognitive impairment.  Three clinical trials are in process and a fourth is being planned.  The trials are testing potential treatments that may improve memory and learning.  Examples of research underway:
- Restore more balanced neuro-transmission: models indicate that nerve cell transmission is over inhibited.  Two clinical trials are under way to evaluate potential drugs that have been shown to restore more balanced neurotransmission and improve learning.
- Restore normal cerebellum size and improve cognitive function: disruptive brain development leads to reduced cerebellum size.  A compound is being studied that has been known to stimulate more proper brain cell development.
- Maintain health of nerve cells: various studies indicate levels of brain cells impairment.  Researchers are identifying combinations of drugs that are helping to restore health of nerve cells.
- Reduce the frequency of Alzheimer's Disease: Individuals are 3-5 times likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease, at an earlier age of onset.  Medical therapies are under investigation that would reduce the amount of plaque formation in the brain and reduce the progression of Alzheimer's Disease.

Our research strategy is to prioritize the funding for programs with a high probability of readily contributing to the development of safe and effective therapies that will improve memory, learning, communication and addressing the increased likelihood for Alzheimer's Disease. 

Down Syndrome advocates have facilitated health care advances and inclusion.  Now is the time to build upon these successes.  We need your continued help to fund research to provide enhanced life opportunities educationally, occupationally and socially for persons with Down Syndrome.