OBJECTIVE: We aimed to estimate the prevalence of Down syndrome (DS) among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years in 10 regions of the United States.

METHODS: This study was a cross-sectional analysis of live-born infants with DS during 1979–2003 from 10 population-based birth defects registries in the United States. We estimated the prevalence of DS at birth and among children aged 0 to 19 years in each region and in all regions pooled. The prevalence of DS among children and adolescents was calculated overall and according to age group, race/ethnicity, infant gender, and presence of a major heart defect.

RESULTS: From 1979 through 2003, the prevalence of DS at birth increased by 31.1%, from 9.0 to 11.8 per 10000 live births in 10 US regions. In 2002, the prevalence among children and adolescents (0–19 years old) was 10.3 per 10000. The prevalence of DS among children in a given age group consistently increased over time but decreased with age within a given birth cohort. The pooled prevalence of DS among children and adolescents was lower among non-Hispanic black individuals and other racial/ethnic groups compared with non-Hispanic white individuals; it was also lower among females than males.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides prevalence estimates of DS among children and adolescents from 10 US regions. These estimates varied according to region, race/ethnicity, and gender, suggesting possible variation in prevalence at birth or in survival rates on the basis of these characteristics.

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