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What causes Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition and is caused by an error during cell division. During fertilization (when the sperm and egg meet), or while an embryo is developing, cells divide abnormally to create extra chromosome 21 material. This additional genetic material can cause three different types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21, translocation Down syndrome and mosaic Down's syndrome.

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Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 07 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 14 May 2019
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Votes: 746 (Click smiley face below to rate)
Category: Fetal alcohol syndrome


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