Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition. One in every 733 live births is a child with Down syndrome, representing approximately 5,000 births per year in the United States. More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have Down syndrome

About 80 percent of children with Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35, simply because younger women have more children. However, the likelihood of bearing a child with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother

Down syndrome is set of mental and physical symptoms that result from having an extra copy of chromosome 21. Even though people with Down syndrome may have some physical and mental features in common, symptoms of Down syndrome can range from mild to severe. Usually, mental development and physical development are slower in people with Down syndrome than in those without it.

People with the syndrome may also have other health problems. They may be born with heart disease. They may have dementia. They may have hearing problems and problems with the intestines, eyes, thyroid and skeleton.

The chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as a woman gets older. Down syndrome cannot be cured. However, many people with Down syndrome live productive lives well into adulthood.

 

Common physical signs include:

  • Decreased muscle tone at birth
  • Excess skin at the nape of the neck
  • Flattened nose
  • Separated joints between the bones of the skull (sutures)
  • Single crease in the palm of the hand
  • Small ears
  • Small mouth
  • Upward slanting eyes
  • Wide, short hands with short fingers
  • White spots on the colored part of the eye (Brushfield spots)

Physical development is often slower than normal. Most children with Down syndrome never reach their average adult height.

Children may also have delayed mental and social development. Common problems may include:

  • Impulsive behavior

  • Poor judgment

  • Short attention span

  • Slow learning

As children with Down syndrome grow and become aware of their limitations, they may also feel frustration and anger.

Many different medical conditions are seen in people with Down syndrome, including:

There is no specific treatment for Down syndrome. A child born with a gastrointestinal blockage may need major surgery immediately after birth. Certain heart defects may also require surgery.

When breast-feeding, the baby should be well supported and fully awake. The baby may have some leakage because of poor tongue control. However, many infants with Down syndrome can successfully breast-feed.

Obesity can become a problem for older children and adults. Getting plenty of activity and avoiding high-calorie foods are important. Before beginning sports activities, the child's neck and hips should be examined.

Behavioral training can help people with Down syndrome and their families deal with the frustration, anger, and compulsive behavior that often occur. Parents and caregivers should learn to help a person with Down syndrome deal with frustration. At the same time, it is important to encourage independence.

Adolescent females and women with Down syndrome are usually able to get pregnant. There is an increased risk of sexual abuse and other types of abuse in both males and females. It is important for those with Down syndrome to:

  • Be taught about pregnancy and taking the proper precautions

  • Learn to advocate for themselves in difficult situations

  • Be in a safe environment

If the person has any heart defects or problems, check with the physician about the need for antibiotics to prevent heart infections called endocarditis.

Special education and training is offered in most communities for children with delays in mental development. Speech therapy may help improve language skills. Physical therapy may teach movement skills. Occupational therapy may help with feeding and performing tasks. Mental health care can help both parents and the child manage mood or behavior problems. Special educators are also often needed.

Support Groups

National Down Syndrome Society - www.ndss.org

National Down Syndrome Congress -- www.ndsccenter.org

Outlook (Prognosis)

Persons with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. Although many children have physical and mental limitations, they can live independent and productive lives well into adulthood.

About half of children with Down syndrome are born with heart problems, including atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, and endocardial cushion defects. Severe heart problems may lead to early death.

Persons with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain types of leukemia, which can also cause early death.

The level of mental retardation varies from patient to patient, but is usually moderate. Adults with Down syndrome have an increased risk for dementia.

Possible Complications

  • Airway blockage during sleep

  • Compression injury of the spinal cord

  • Endocarditis

  • Eye problems

  • Frequent ear infections and increased risk of other infections

  • Hearing loss

  • Heart problems

  • Gastrointestinal blockage

  • Weakness of the back bones at the top of the neck

When to Contact a Medical Professional

A health care provider should be consulted to determine if the child needs special education and training. It is important for the child to have regular checkups with his or her doctor.

 

References

national down syndrome society

http://www.ndss.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=74

About Down Syndrome http://www.monicaanddavid.com/

http://www.monicaanddavid.com/learn-more/about-down-syndrome/

http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/down-syndrome/overview.html

 

 

 

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