6. Can men & women with Down's syndrome get married and have children?

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People with Down's syndrome have the right to have personal and sexual relationships, and to get married. The DSA knows of a number of happily married couples where one or both partners have Down's syndrome. It is important that young people with Down's syndrome receive education in the area of relationships and sexuality. As in other areas of learning, they may need more support with this than some of their peers.

Both women and men with Down's syndrome can be fertile, although both sexes have a reduced fertility rate. They therefore need advice on, and access to, contraception. People with Down's syndrome need careful and sensitive advice about having children, as there are a number of issues to consider. Some people with learning disabilities can successfully parent their children, given the right support. However, many couples with learning disabilities decide for themselves not to have children because of the responsibility and hard work involved, or for financial reasons. Where one parent has Down's syndrome, there is a 35% to 50% chance that the child would inherit the syndrome. This chance is even higher where both parents have Down's syndrome. There is also a high chance that pregnancy would end in miscarriage. Women with Down's syndrome are also more likely than other women to have a premature baby, or to need a caesarian section.