About Down's Syndrome : Pre-natal FAQs

The Down’s Syndrome Association is a source of balanced, accurate information and advice.

Here you will find answers to questions that we are often asked. Our Information Officers are happy to answer any questions you have and provide you with further information – we talk to parents at any stage of pregnancy. You can download this information here or call for a hard copy of this document.

You can call us on 0333 1212 300 or email info@downs-syndrome.org.uk

Please click on a FAQ below to expand.

Screening Tests

What screening tests will I be offered by the NHS?

Do I have to take the tests?

The combined test offered in early pregnancy

Screening later in pregnancy

What is considered to be a higher chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome?

If I have a higher chance figure does that mean that my baby has Down’s syndrome?

Do screening tests that are currently available from the NHS identify all babies with Down’s syndrome?

Non invasive pre-natal testing (NIPT)

My father had a relative with Down’s syndrome; does this mean that I have a higher chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome?

What happens next if I have a higher chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome?

Diagnostic Tests

What types of diagnostic test are available?

Are the diagnostic tests safe?

Do I have to take the diagnostic test? Should I take the diagnostic test?

Aren’t most babies born with Down’s syndrome born to older mothers?

How many children with Down’s syndrome are born each year in UK?

Why do I have a higher chance/positive diagnosis?

I have heard that people with Down’s syndrome have a learning disability; can the tests tell me the level of my unborn baby’s learning disability?

I have had a pre-natal diagnosis or I already have a child with Down’s syndrome, what is the chance of having another baby with the condition?



You will find lots of information and resources about people with Down’s syndrome on the DSA’s website www.downs-syndrome.org.uk including the following publications

Looking Forward to Your Baby

Celebrating our Lives – Adults with Down’s syndrome

People with Down’s syndrome – Your Questions Answered

You can download these from DSA’s website or call us (Tel: 0333 1212 300) for hard copies.

ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices)

Website http://www.arc-uk.org/

Helpline: 0845 077 2290 (Mon to Fri 10.00 am to 5.30pm) or 0207 713 7486 via mobile.

NHS – Screening for Down’s syndrome


Did you know…?

  • Around one in every 1000 babies born in the UK will have Down’s syndrome.
  • There are approximately 40,000 people in the UK with the condition.
  • Although the chance of a baby having Down’s syndrome is higher for older mothers, more babies with Down’s syndrome are born to younger women.
  • Down’s syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells. In the majority of cases, Down’s syndrome is not an inherited condition. Down’s syndrome usually occurs because of a chance happening at the time of conception.
  • Down’s syndrome is not a disease. People with Down’s syndrome are not ill and do not “suffer” from the condition.
  • People with the syndrome will have a learning disability. The learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn, it does not mean they cannot learn.
  • Today the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s syndrome is between 50 and 60 with a small number of people living into their seventies.

About the Down’s Syndrome Association

  • Last year we responded to over 8,500 telephone enquiries on our switchboard from members, professionals and the general public, and over 3,800 calls on our helpline.
  • Our website was visited by over 466,034 people from over 150 countries worldwide.
photograph: Eleonora_os/Shutterstock.com

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