Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called “nondisjunction.” Nondisjunction results in an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. Prior to or at conception, a pair of 21st chromosomes in either the sperm or the egg fails to separate.
How is Down's syndrome inherited?
People who inherit an unbalanced translocation involving chromosome 21 may have extra genetic material from chromosome 21, which causes Down syndrome. Like trisomy 21, mosaic Down syndrome is not inherited. It occurs as a random event during cell division early in fetal development.