Evidence for the ‘Down Syndrome Advantage’

Previous research has found that mothers raising children with Down’s syndrome report lower levels of parenting stress and symptoms of depression than mothers raising children with other diagnoses. This has sometimes been known as the ‘Down’s syndrome advantage.’

The Family Research team, led by Mikeda Jess, found that in this study, like in other research, that mothers of children with Down syndrome in the 1000 Families Study reported lower levels of psychological difficulties and higher life satisfaction than other mothers of children with disabilities and that they said they felt closer to their child.

The difference in closeness between mothers and their children with Down syndrome seemed to be explained by increased levels of social skills in the children with Down syndrome. The lower levels of psychological difficulties and higher life satisfaction seemed to be explained by families of children with Down syndrome being “better off” than other families on average. This indicates that the ‘Down syndrome advantage’ may be more related to wider family experiences, such as families living in poverty.  Future research should focus on how families of children with Down syndrome experience family life, particularly over time and during times of transition.

The full paper is freely available to read here, and if you would like further information or have any questions about this study, please contact us at [email protected].


Jess, M., Flynn, S., Bailey, T., Hastings, R. P., & Totsika, V. (2021). Failure to replicate a robust Down syndrome advantage for maternal well-being. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research: JIDR, 65(3), 262–271.

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