Is there a way to know if our baby will have Down syndrome?

Your healthcare providers can diagnose Down syndrome before your baby is born or at birth.

  • In prenatal (before birth) tests called screenings, blood tests and ultrasound (imaging test) are used to look for “markers” that suggest Down syndrome may be present.
  • Other prenatal screenings used to diagnose Down syndrome include amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). In these tests, a doctor removes a sample of cells from the part of the womb called the placenta (CVS), or the fluid surrounding the baby (amniocentesis), to look for abnormal chromosomes. You can choose whether or not to have these prenatal screenings.
  • At birth, providers look for the physical signs of Down syndrome. To confirm the diagnosis, a blood test called a karyotype is done. In this test, the a small sample of blood is taken and studied under a microscope to see if an extra amount of chromosome 21 is present.

What if we find out that our unborn baby has Down syndrome?

If you find out the baby you’re carrying has Down syndrome, your providers will direct you to resources to help you after your child’s birth. Several options are available (see Resources section).

You may want to participate in counseling or join a support group. Counselors and support groups help you prepare for raising a child with Down syndrome.

In support groups you can talk with other parents about their experiences living with Down syndrome. It’s a great way to share practical advice on coping with the condition, its ups-and-downs, frustrations and joys. You’ll find that you’re not alone.

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