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Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves birth defects, intellectual disabilities and characteristic facial features. It also often involves heart defects, visual and hearing impairments, and other health problems. The severity of all of these problems varies greatly. Down syndrome is one of the most common genetic birth defects, affecting about one in 800 babies. In the United States, around 250,000 individuals have Down syndrome. Life expectancy among adults with Down syndrome is about 60 years, though average lifespan varies. The term Down syndrome comes from Dr. Langdon Down, the doctor who first described the collection of physical symptoms in 1866. It was not until 1959 that the cause of Down syndrome (the presence of an extra #21 chromosome) was identified.