New research estimates current and past populations of people living with Down syndrome in European countries for the first time. This research will help us to better understand the factors influencing birth rates and population size and improve planning for services for people with Down syndrome.

A new paper, recently published in the European Journal of Human Genetics[1] presents research that gathered data from across Europe to estimate births and populations of people with Down syndrome for different European countries and regions.

The research estimates that from 2011 to 2015, an average of 8,031 babies were born each year in European countries and that the population of people with Down syndrome in Europe in 2015 was 417,000.

The research found marked difference in birth rates between different countries, reflecting differences in maternal ages, and different laws, attitudes and access to prenatal screening and elective terminations. Across European countries, it was estimated that live birth prevalence fell by 11% over the 30 years to 2011-2015 and that in 2015 there were more than 50% fewer live births than there would have been in the absence of prenatal screening and elective terminations.

The study authors have produced a freely available fact sheet summarizing their findings:

The study was supported by the Dutch Down Syndrome Foundation and Down Syndrome Education International.


  1. de Graaf, G., Buckley, F. & Skotko, B.G. (2020). Estimation of the number of people with Down syndrome in Europe. European Journal of Human Genetics. doi:10.1038/s41431-020-00748-y Available: Supplementary information available: