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Down Syndrome Cases at Birth Increased

The total number of cases at birth in the US increased by 24.2% from 1979-1983 to 1999-2003 in 10 regions.

Chart: Down Syndrome at Birth per 10,000 Live Births, 1979--2003. 1979-1983: 9.5; 1984-1988: 10.3; 1989-1993: 10.8; 1994-1998: 11.0; 1999-2003: 11.8. From 1979 to 2003, the prevalence (total number of cases of a disease in a population at a specific time) of Down syndrome (DS) at birth increased by 31 percent, from 9 to 12 per 10,000 live births in 10 US regions. Within the 10 regions, birth prevalence of DS ranged from a low of 9.7 in Arkansas to a high of 13.7 in Utah during 1997-2003.

The number of infants born with DS was almost 5 times higher among births to older mothers (38.6 per 10,000) than among births to younger mothers (7.8 per 10,000).

In 2002, DS was found to be present in about 1 of every 1,000 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 living in 10 chosen regions of the United States, which means that approximately 83,000 children and adolescents with DS were living in the United States during that year. Prevalence of DS by age group was the highest in 0-3 year olds at 11.1, declining to 10.3 among 4-7 year olds, 9.8 among 8-11 year olds, 8.3 among 12-15 year olds, and 6.0 among 16-19 year olds.

Also in 2002, the lowest prevalence of DS among individuals aged 0 to 19 among race/ethnic groups was seen among Non-Hispanic black individuals, at 7.3. Hispanic individuals had the highest prevalence at 12.3, followed by Non-Hispanic white individuals at 10.2 and individuals of other races/ethnicities at 8.9.

More male (prevalence 10.8) than female children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 (prevalence 9.7) had DS in 2002. Moreover, the 2002 prevalence of individuals with DS who also had major congenital heart defects (CHDs) was lower (4.7) than that of individuals without major CHDs (5.6).

Chart: Prevalence of DS among Children and Adolescents (Per 10,000 0- to 19-Year-Olds) on July 1, 2002, Stratified According to Age, Race/Ethnicity, Infant Gender and Presence of Major Congenital Heart Defects.

Data Source: Prevalence of Down Syndrome Among Children and Adolescents in 10 Regions of the United States. Pediatrics December 2009 (124:6);1565-1571.

Prevalence by Age Group:
Ages 0-3: 11.1; Ages 4-7: 10.3; Ages 8-11: 9.8; Ages 12-15: 8.3; Ages 16-19: 6.0

Prevalence by Race/Ethnicity
Non-Hispanic white: 10.2; Other: 8.9; Hispanic: 12.3; Non-Hispanic black: 7.3

Prevalence by Infant Gender:
Male: 10.8; Female: 9.7

Prevalence by Presence of Major Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)
No: 5.6; Yes: 4.7

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: May 15, 2012
  • Page last updated: December 23, 2009
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication