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The risk of having a child with Downs Syndrome increases directly with increasing maternal age. For example, it is estimated that a 25 year old mother has a 1/1300 risk of having a Downs child and a 35 year old has a risk of 1/365. Other risk factors include a family history and a previous child with Downs.
Maternal age: As women age, there is a greater chance that the cells in her eggs will not divide properly. This increases the risk of having a child with Down syndrome. Women who are 35 years old have a one out of 385 chance that their children will have Down syndrome. Forty-year-old women have a one out of 106 chance of giving birth to children with Down syndrome. By age 45, the risk increases to one out of 30.
Mothers of Down syndrome children: In general, a woman who has one child with Down syndrome has a one percent chance of having another child with the condition.
Genetic carriers: Carriers of rearranged chromosome 21 may pass translocation Down syndrome onto their children. The risk of passing the translocation onto a child depends on the parent's gender. Fathers who carry the translocated chromosome have a three percent risk of having children with Down syndrome. Mothers who carry the translocated chromosome have a 12% chance of having children with Down syndrome.
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Any mother, regardless of nationality, race, or behavior, might have a baby with Down syndrome (DS). But, females over 35 have a greater chance than those under 35. This is thought to be the case because the older an egg gets, the greater its risk for abnormal division.
Also, a mother who has previously had a child with DS has a slight increased risk for a subsequent pregnancy with DS (about a 1 percent chance), and those who are known as balanced carriers (referring to the translocation form of DS) have a greater risk as well.
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