Learn more about Down syndrome and about Keaton, a boy with Down syndrome.
Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome.1 Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in newborns in the United States, and its occurrence varies across different races and ethnicities.2,3 October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Learn more about Down syndrome and about Keaton, a boy living with Down syndrome who has a positive effect on everyone around him.
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are small "packages" of genes within each cell of the body. Genes are the instructions that cells use to determine how a baby's body forms and grows during pregnancy, and how a person's body functions after birth. Typically, a baby is born with two copies of each chromosome for a total of 46 chromosomes. Babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of the chromosomes, called chromosome 21. Down syndrome is also referred to as Trisomy 21 (3 copies of chromosome 21). This extra chromosome changes how the baby's body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges.
Even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities.
Keaton's parents were both 40 years old with three teenage daughters when they decided to have another child. When Keaton was born, he did not show the typical signs of an infant with Down syndrome. "The midwives along with a family physician assured us that we didn't have anything to be concerned about because Keaton had good muscle tone, a strong cry, and did not have the single crease across the palm of his hands which most babies with Down syndrome have," says Keaton's mom. Every child with Down syndrome is different. At seven months old, Keaton was diagnosed with Down syndrome through a blood test.
Before he was two years old, Keaton required open heart surgery to repair a partial atrioventricular septal defect. His parents were concerned that Keaton would struggle in his development as he grew. However, Keaton is now 15 years old and keeps everyone entertained with his dancing and singing. He sings the Star Spangled Banner every year for his school musical. He also sings it anytime he receives an invitation, whether for a school board meeting or a high school volleyball game. He will tell you he is a rock star. From his mother, "Keaton is happiest when he is making someone else happy by helping or serving."
CDC would like to thank Keaton and his family for sharing this personal story.
CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) works with partners to learn more about Down syndrome through tracking and research to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families.
- Tracking: Tracking where and when individuals with Down syndrome are born and where they are living gives us important clues about opportunities to improve outcomes and help plan for services for affected families.
- Research: To understand how Down syndrome impacts affected children and their families, CDC and its partners conduct studies on health service use, survival, and other conditions that people with Down syndrome might have (e.g., autism or Alzheimer's disease).
- Improving the lives of individuals with Down syndrome: CDC provided funding to develop Brighter Tomorrows, an initiative to educate healthcare providers on how to counsel families receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Additionally, CDC worked with partners to develop "Your Baby and Down Syndrome,"[2.5 MB], a brochure of valuable information for healthcare providers to provide to new parents.