Title Image

What are the common signs of Down syndrome?

Physical Signs

Common physical signs of Down syndrome include: 1

  • Decreased or poor muscle tone
  • Short neck, with excess skin at the back of the neck
  • Flattened facial profile and nose
  • Small head, ears, and mouth
  • Upward slanting eyes, often with a skin fold that comes out from the upper eyelid and covers the inner corner of the eye
  • White spots on the colored part of the eye
  • Wide, short hands with short fingers
  • A single, deep, crease across the palm of the hand
  • A deep groove between the first and second toes

In addition, physical development in children with Down syndrome is often slower than development of children without Down syndrome. For example, because of poor muscle tone, a child with Down syndrome may be slow to learn to turn over, sit, stand, and walk. Despite these delays, children with Down syndrome can learn to participate in physical exercise activities like other children. It may take children with Down syndrome longer than other children to reach developmental milestones, but they will eventually meet many of these milestones.

Intellectual and Developmental Symptoms

Cognitive impairment, problems with thinking and learning, is common in people with Down syndrome and usually ranges from mild to moderate. Only rarely is Down syndrome associated with severe cognitive impairment.1

Other common cognitive and behavioural problems may include

  • Short attention span
  • Poor judgment
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Slow learning
  • Delayed language and speech development

Most children with Down syndrome develop the communication skills they need, although it might take longer for them to do so compared with other children. Early, ongoing speech and language interventions to encourage expressive language and improve speech are particularly helpful.

Did you know that the parents and families of children with Down syndrome connect with other families and people with Down syndrome from around the world to learn more and share information?