Down syndrome is one of the most commonly diagnosed chromosomal disorders in the UK.


Data has been collected since 1989 by the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic register (NDSRC)

  • Approximate number of people living in England and Wales with Down syndrome 37,090
  • Prevalence 0.66/1000
  • Live birth rate in the UK 2012 1.1/1000.
  • estimated 775 Babies born with Down syndrome in England and Wales in 2012
  • Risk of Down syndrome increases with maternal age
  • Overall prevalence including all prenatal and postnatal diagnoses has risen since 1989 , likely to be due to both increasing maternal age , and early diagnosis of pregnancies that may be non viable
  • Live birth rate has not increased since 1989
  • 90% of affected pregnancies diagnosed antenatally are terminated

Life expectancy

  • Mean life expectancy in developed countries is now 60 years
  • Dramatic increase from mean life expectancy of 12 years in 1940’s
  • Morbidity and mortality remains higher than for the general population and for those with other intellectual disability at all ages



DSMIG Guidance



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Additional Resources

Wu J, Morris JK. The population prevalence of Down’s syndrome in England and Wales in 2011. European Journal of Human Genetics. 2013;21(9):1016-9.

Morris JK, Springett A. The National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register for England and Wales: 2012 Annual Report. National Down Syndrome Cytogenic Register: Queen Mary University of London 2014

Loane M, Morris JK, Addor M-C, Arriola L, Budd J, Doray B, et al. Twenty-year trends in the prevalence of Down syndrome and other trisomies in Europe: impact of maternal age and prenatal screening. European Journal of Human Genetics. 2013;21(1):27-33.

Bittles AH, Bower C, Hussain R, Glasson EJ. The four ages of Down syndrome. The European Journal of Public Health. 2007;17(2):221-5.