This is a question many of us caregivers ponder. Can people with Down Syndrome have children? The answer to this question will bring joy to some and to others, a whole new dimension of fretting in an already topsy-turvy world. This would be a good time to insert a deep inhalation followed by a long slow exhale.
YES, people with Down Syndrome can and do have babies.
Women with Down Syndrome CAN get pregnant
While not all women with Down Syndrome (DS) will be able to have kids, some are indeed fertile. Presently there are at least 30 documented pregnancies involving women who have DS. So guys, you know what this means? Contraceptive is a must. I know contraceptive is not the easiest topic to bring up or talk about. “How was your day? Let’s talk about condoms.” God knows that must be THE WORST segue in life. I know it’s not easy, but we the caregivers must find a way to speak with our loved ones about sex and even more importantly, safe sex. People with DS are just like everybody else with feelings just like everybody else. We are all more alike than different.
Men with Down Syndrome CAN father children
Yes, you read right. There are at least 3 instances where paternity tests proved that the father was indeed a man with Down Syndrome (see Journal of Medical Genetics & American Society of Reproductive Medicine). I know some of us thought having boys with DS would spare us the whole contraceptive discussion. Think again.
To Have a Baby or not…That’s the Question
Now that we know it is physically possible, do you think your loved one should bring a life into this world? Honestly, just as with everybody else, it depends on the individual’s circumstances. What do you think?
If your loved one is physically healthy, in a committed relationship (marriage or otherwise) and financial stability is present in the form of them having a job or family providing such assistance, should they go ahead and create life? Why? Or, Why not? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
this was an interesting one.
I always thought that down syndrome are not supposed to have kids even if they are healthy but now after i read your article I changed my mind, If they can have the support and help, so why not???
I hope more people will start thinking like me.
Hi Chanan, so happy you took the time to visit HappyDowns. Thank you for being willing to look at things from a different perspective. Cheers.
This topic is so interesting… And you are right with or without DS we are all the same and created by our Creator God. And because of that, it is possible to get pregnant and have a child be a mother or father because that one of our blessing from above.
I am happy to share this topic to some of my friends that have DS that wanting to have a baby someday.
With a warm smile,
Hi Joana Marie,
Thanks for stopping by HappyDowns with your warm smile 🙂 . An interesting topic indeed. Please let me know what your friends have to say about this topic. Looking forward to hearing back from you!
I do not see anything wrong with a Down Syndrome couple getting married and spending their lives together. That being said, as a parent of one, I would be concerned that they would not be able to handle parental responsibilities and I would do my best to discourage them from having children.
Difficulties abound not only in day to day activities like having jobs and driving a car butâ€¦how about helping with their kidsâ€™ homework or handling the ever-changing complex issues that their children would experience as they grow up.
I know that it is harder for them to conceive but, as you say, it is entirely possible and, actually, highly likely that they can conceive.
The good news is that the gene, trisomy 21, which causes Down Syndrome, is not hereditary.
I like the points you made…important things to ponder.
In the case of this couple having a “normal” child:
1) What if the couple was in a financial standing to hire a nanny similarly to how some wealthy families do and it’s the nanny that raises the child and not really the parents?
2) Or, suppose this couple had the support of their siblings and other family members who would provide the guidance the parents could not? I know some persons whose parents didn’t make it as far as high school and therefore their ability to help with homework was limited. Thus, another family member had to step in to ensure the child got proper education.
Would scenario 1 or 2 above change your mind about discouraging the couple to have kids?
Jim, please indulge me. I love a good discussion and your points were solid. Let me know what you think.
I really do not think having a nanny or support of normal siblings would change my mind. The reason? In the final analysis, they are STILL the parents and the children will look to them for final guidance and direction.
I hear you…there will be limitations as to the guidance that parents with DS can provide.
On the other hand, I am used to seeing “abled/normal” persons having kids but it’s really another family member that raises them (for various reasons)…not saying this way is right or wrong…just saying I have seen where the child is still provided for…but the relationship between the child and the parent is at times negatively affected, e.g. the child sees the other family member as their actual parent and not the birth parents, which can cause some amount of tension.
The point is, the latter can work…but ideally, it’s not what I would want for myself and I am not sure my sister would want that for herself either.
Each individual/family has to make their own choice.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jim.
Great post and very interesting question to address! For me, I would say that as long as both partied understand their circumstances, money right and the risk of their child getting DS too, than it is their right to have children. I would personally never tell someone with DS that they shouldn’t have children because of their condition. God made them fertile for a reason: to get out there and multiply responsibility.
Thanks for stopping by HappyDowns. You raised a good point…does one have the right to tell another whether or not to have kids (disability or no disability)… interesting topic indeed.
Feel free to stop by HappyDowns again. Cheers.
Very interesting article and topic, I know many people feel people with down syndrome should not have children, but these people have the same needs and wants as everyone else they just have disabilities and I really believe they should have the choice to bring children into the world or not too.
That point of “choice” is where it gets complicated. We have a right to procreate…but isn’t that right in the context where we can adequately provide for the child? But then, what determines if a person can provide for their child? Because I see a lot of “abled/normal” persons who have children that many would argue should never have had any kids – for reasons such as lack of finances, lack of care for the child (so the child is financially provided for but that’s about it), etc.
So many questions. The parents with DS and their families would have to seriously discuss this topic before making such a decision, as not all people with DS are the same. Some are more independent than others.
Hi Alicia. Your post is most intriguing and presented as a topical question certainly brings out a certain mindset. I am torn on how to answer this question in a way that would satisfy my own feelings on this. How would I approach this as a dad of a DS child (I am not….I’m just thinking out loud) feel about my child having babies? I think my first reaction would be that if there is a need for my child to want to get married I’m sure I would not be against this. Of course circumstances would play a role in this as I consider how vulnerable he or she would be and depending on the partner…..it’s a tough question.
When DS children get a certain age and depending on their own physical disabilities they have desires and concerns. I do think of the fact that if they had a child and the child was not DS themselves what kind of a life would the child have growing up in a cruel society etc. That is somewhat of a concern. Man, this is a thought provoker for sure and surely a worthy topic.
One thing I didn’t catch in your blog was whether “you” were for or against this. I think this is important for readers to know and forgive me if your thoughts on this are there and I missed it. Another point I could make perhaps is that I wished the blog was somewhat longer with more pics and information on DS people. Much is left unsaid in your blog and therefore leaves your commentators giving “emotional” answers which are not based on “the facts” of DS people and their sometimes far-ranging physical development. I do believe education on the subject would lead to better ideas and thoughts. Now, of course, your other blogs may identify this but if not why not here.
You are someone who takes care of DS people and good for you (I cheer you on) therefore you would probably have some personal stories (without names of course) of discussions you have had with them or concerns they have or various points on the matter first hand which would be educational and interesting.
I am all for procreation and I do believe the words “go ye forth and multiply”. We are not told exactly how or who or what conditions so in that sense I see no harm. The big decision to me is the “Common Sense” factor don’t you think? As I said earlier this is a thought provoking subject. Wish you could expound on it more and illustrate more via pics etc.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment….all the best to you going forward, Duane.
I am happy to see that this blog made you really think about this topic. I didn’t state a personal stance, as the aim of this article was to get people to stop and think about this and give their points of view…emotional or not.
I can’t use a blanket statement and say they should or should not have children, as I have realized that persons with DS are not all the same…some are way more independent than others, so that coupled with the family support that they may have can open up a world of possibilities.
I will definitely have to do future articles exploring the various abilities of persons with DS. Thank you Duane for your thoughts on this subject…really appreciate it. I would like to encourage you to use “people-first language”, you can read about it here – “Let’s Talk”.
Thanks again. Feel free to stop by HappyDowns anytime and share your views. Take care!
I dont feel like a person with downs has the ability to make the decision to have children. They dont have the necessary abilities to raise the children so it should really be up to the family or friends in their lives since they will truly be the ones raising the kids. Not that people with downs can’t lead full and happy lives, they just dont have the abilities to raise other lives since they have such difficulties in their own day to day lives. I wish it were different but it’s not. It absolutely needs to be an entire family discussion. On that same topic… we need licensences to adopt puppies and such, why not when having children? Some people are just not capable. Its clearly a moral issue but some people just shouldn’t be having kids, disability or not… am I wrong? It seems to me like the less capable they are, the more children they are raising. Which just drags the gene pools lower and lower. Not that lower class people shouldn’t have kids, but if you’re already on welfare and you’re having your 4th kid, why is this allowed? I’m clearly very opinionated on this subject. Sorry if I offended anyone. Wasnt my objective…
No offence taken at all. You have made some great points when it comes to having children in general… disability or not. I too have wondered about the licence thing…for everyone, not just persons with disabilities. I too have wondered why it is that persons who can barely take care of themselves financially have several kids. These are all valid questions. Thank you for taking the time to share them.
Hopefully, one day the world can find a moral balance to answer all these questions.
You can have a child if you have down syndrome because alot of people with disabilities can raise children all the time
Thank you for your thoughts on this topic. I wish you would have expounded on some points to support your point of view, e.g. sharing the story of someone you know who has a disability and is raising their child.
I recently saw a video made by the son of a man who has Down Syndrome. The son has no disability and is eternally grateful to his father, who worked hard over the years to put him through school so that he (the son) now has a good career. So, to your point, it is happening and persons are raising their children successfully.
Alicia, thank you for your ability to listen to differing points of view on a controversial topic. I would love to hear more about the experiences of people with Down syndrome who have become parents – both positive experiences and their struggles.
This is fascinating.
As for parental licensing, see China regarding that one. No thanks, I prefer for the individual to make their own moral decisions.
As for group decision making, see above, I’m of the same opinion. We answer for our decisions independently. Having said that I do believe we bear each other’s burdens and have responsibility to help each other. So yes to giving support input, and no to giving right to any outside decision making.
So, ultimately God always provides for a way of escape, we are never hedged in on all sides, if we choose to follow His ways in obedience. Therefore if a person becomes pregnant and does not abort the child, and cannot be primary caregiver; open adoption is the perfect solution. Just ask any momma with empty arms, they’ll consider the baby a blessing, not a burden.
Thank you for giving your “two cents” on this topic. I like your take that God will always provide a way…there is always a solution to what we view as a problem. I love how this discussion shows how different persons are in the way we view having children. It is quite interesting!
Thanks for writing this article. What interesting discussions above. Imho the most important thing a parent can provide is love. Everything else is generally a bit of a community effort anyway. Everyone I know who has DS has a greater capacity to love / to share love than anyone I know who doesn’t have DS. Honestly I think anyone who has DS has just as much right to have children as anyone else and the people who I know who have DS would all make great parents.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us on this topic. You made some good points. You answered the million dollar question…do persons with DS have the right to have children. I think this where some people get stuck (they are not sure). To anyone who disagrees with Cathy…why would persons with DS not have this right?
Magical fantastic creatures can not provide financial, spiritual or emotional support. Children depend on adults: biological or adoptive parents, relatives government and society. If magical creatures could provide there would not be millions of children working and living as slaves, hungry, sick and abused. Adults with DS may or may not be capable of raising happy healthy responsible children. It depends on there financial, emotional and health status plus the support of their caregivers; they could probably be better role models providers and parents than other that do not have genetical issues but carry burdens that make some of us consider they shouldn’t be allowed to be parents and actually be sterilized. Adults that do not care or provide a safe loving caring environment are the one who shouldn’t have kids. It is not just an issue of money because finances can change for better or worse. I think it is a serious life long commitment. Parents and educators should go more in-depth about the birds and bees talk.
Thank you for sharing your viewpoint. I agree that raising children is a serious lifelong commitment and indeed it is adults, disability or not, who don’t provide a safe loving environment…these are the persons who should not be having children.
Feel free to stop by HappyDowns again and share your thoughts with us.
This is a very interesting topic. My granddaughter who is 5 has DS. If a young woman with DS gets pregnant she should certainly be able to have and care for her child. Of course parents and siblings and other close people should help out. I would help out in a heartbeat. Many people with various disabilities have children. Why should a person with DS be any different? So my answer is yes. A person with DS should be able to have kids if that is their choice. I would be the first person in line to help my granddaughter if someday she chose to have a baby!
I know a guy who is a handyman/home improvement contractor, he did a lot of work for an older couple with a young adult Downs syndrome daughter, and as he got to know them they shared how they were worried sick about her after they died or were no longer able to care for her, she was fairly high functioning, but they were concerned that she might be taken advantage of. He offered to marry her, he brought it up with her parents in her absence first, after a long discussion and a lot of soul searching, they agreed and he proposed to her, she excitingly accepted, and going on six years now, they are both deliriously happy, no children so far but they are open to the possibility, he says that he wants to give her children and she definitely wants them, he told me she can do most household chores, and he supplies their needs. He said that they don’t use birth control. He said she loves unconditionally, and doesn’t lie to him or hide any secrets, he said that as a wife, she is a SUPERIOR woman, it is so-called “normies” that are messed up.
Thank you Jacques for sharing a real-life example of what is possible. Glad to hear the couple is doing well.