Each person with Down's syndrome is affected differently, but most share certain physical characteristics and development problems. 

Physical characteristics

People with Down's syndrome often have certain physical characteristics. Not everyone will have all of them, but they may include:

  • floppiness (hypotonia)
  • small nose and flat nasal bridge
  • small mouth with a tongue that may stick out
  • eyes that slant upwards and outwards
  • a flat back of the head
  • broad hands with short fingers
  • their palm may have only one crease across it
  • below-average weight and length at birth

But people with Down's syndrome don't all look the same – they also look like their parents and family.

Delayed development

All children with Down's syndrome have some degree of learning disability and delayed development, but this varies widely between individual children.

Children with Down's may be slower to learn skills like sitting, standing, walking, and talking. They will develop these skills eventually, it just takes more time.

Around 1 in every 10 children with Down's also have other conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children with Down's syndrome often need more support as they grow up, including extra help at school.

Read more about living with Down's syndrome.

Health problems

There are some conditions more common in people with Down's syndrome.

These include:

  • problems with the heart and bowel
  • difficulties with hearing and vision
  • a higher risk of infections

Read more about the possible complications of Down's syndrome.

Page last reviewed: 30/04/2017
Next review due: 30/04/2020