How can Down syndrome affect children and how to manage them?

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Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome number 21. The extra chromosome is associated with a delay in the child’s mental and physical development, as well as an increased risk of health problems..

According to the website kidshealth The physical characteristics and medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary greatly from child to child, and while some children need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives..

Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, occurs by chance, isn’t preventable, and isn’t caused by anything a parent did or didn’t do. Fortunately, health issues can be managed well, especially if caught early and available. Many resources to help children and their families.

What causes Down syndrome?

A child inherits genetic information from its parents in 46 chromosomes, usually 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. Chromosomes contain our genes, which carry the information that determines the shape and functioning of our bodies, including traits from our relatives such as hair and eye color..

In most cases of Down syndrome, the child receives an extra 21 chromosome, for a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. Rarely, the extra 21 chromosome attaches to another chromosome. This extra genetic material causes physical characteristics and developmental delays in people with Down syndrome. The characteristics are no different whether the extra chromosome stands alone or is linked to another..

How can Down syndrome affect children?

Children with Down syndrome often have similar physical characteristics, such as a flat face shape, upturned eyes, small ears, and a protruding tongue..

Low muscle tone (called hypotonia) is also common in babies with Down syndrome, but is less pronounced as they get older. Babies will reach developmental milestones, such as sitting up, crawling, and walking, although usually later than others children. Low muscle tone can also contribute to sucking and feeding problems during early childhood, as well as gastroesophageal reflux and constipation. .

At birth, children with Down syndrome are often smaller than other newborns, tend to grow at a slower pace, and tend to stay shorter than their peers. Younger and older children may have delays in speech and self-care skills such as feeding, dressing and toileting.

Down syndrome affects children’s ability to learn in different ways, and most have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Children can learn and do and can develop skills throughout their lives. They achieve goals at a different pace, so it’s important to remember that each child with Down syndrome will acquire skills in their own time and not compare them to typical peers or even children with the same condition.

Children with Down syndrome have a wide range of abilities and there is no way to tell them at birth what they can do as they grow up.

What medical problems can occur with Down syndrome?

Some children with Down syndrome do not have serious health problems, but others may have medical problems that require additional care. Many go to clinics that specialize in Down syndrome care. If you don’t have a Down syndrome clinic in your area, your primary care doctor can help coordinate care for the baby.

About half of all babies born with Down syndrome have a congenital heart defect. All babies with Down syndrome should be screened for this using a specialized ultrasound of the heart (echocardiogram)..

About half of children also have hearing and vision problems. Hearing loss can be related to fluid buildup in the inner ear or to structural problems in the ear itself. Vision problems usually include squinting (the eyes don’t track together), nearsightedness or farsightedness, and cataracts.

Vision and hearing problems can affect speech and learning Regular checkups by an otolaryngologist (ENT), audiologist and ophthalmologist can detect and manage any problems.

Children may need to see other medical professionals, depending on their needs. Medical problems that often occur with Down syndrome include the following:

Thyroid problems (usually hypothyroidism)

Gastrointestinal problems, including celiac disease, reflux and constipation


Breathing problems, including sleep apnea and asthma


Infections, including ear infections and pneumonia

Leukemia in childhood

People with Down syndrome sometimes have upper spine (neck) instability and should be seen by a doctor every year or sooner if they have symptoms, such as neck pain, changes in gait, or an unexpected loss of bladder control or of the intestine. Some children may need an x-ray of the neck before playing certain sports or before anesthesia .

How is Down syndrome diagnosed?

Two types of prenatal tests can look for Down syndrome in a fetus:

Screening tests estimate the likelihood that a fetus has Down syndrome.

Diagnostic tests can tell if a fetus has this condition.

Screening tests are affordable and easy to do, but they don’t give a definitive answer as to whether or not a child has Down syndrome. Therefore, these tests are used to help parents decide whether to have further diagnostic tests.

Diagnostic tests accurately diagnose Down syndrome and other chromosomal problems. But since this involves getting some of the baby’s cells while it’s still inside the uterus, there is a risk of miscarriage and other complications..

If you’re not sure which test, if any, is right for you, your doctor or genetic counselor can help you sort out the pros and cons of each..

How can parents help?

If your child has Down syndrome, you may initially experience feelings of loss, guilt, and fear of the unknown. Talking to other parents of children with Down syndrome can help you face your fears and find ways to look forward to the future. Many parents find that learning as much as possible about the condition helps ease any worries.

Children with Down syndrome benefit from getting early intervention services as early as possible Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech/nutrition can help Early childhood educators can work with the child to encourage and promote growth.

The decision to send your child to school can be a difficult one. The needs of some children with Down syndrome are best met in a specialized program. But many children with Down syndrome attend a regular school and enjoy the same activities as other children their age. Being in a mainstream classroom (known as Inclusion (where appropriate) is good for both the child with Down syndrome and other children.







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