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Down's Syndrome

Down's syndrome (Down Syndrome) is a condition that results from an extra, or partial chromosome 21 and it can range from mild to severe symptoms that are cognitive and physical in nature. A flat-looking face is a very common feature with individuals with this condition and they commonly present with a wide range of health problems. This is a chronic condition that individuals need to learn to cope with, but it should be noted that many children with this problem can grow up to lead happy, healthy lives.

The Causes of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome arises before birth and it arises from the formation of a 47th chromosome; most people usually have 46 chromosomes. The extra chromosome alters the manner in which the brain functions, and this is what causes the symptoms commonly associated with the condition.

The Symptoms of Down Syndrome

Some of the most common symptoms associated with this condition include;

  • Distinctive Features (slanted eyes, flat face)
  • Short arms, legs and neck
  • Weak Muscles
  • Below-average intelligence

There are other, less than common symptoms associated with this condition, including intestinal, heart, respiratory and auditory problems, among others. Many of the physical symptoms of the condition can be treated medically, depending on their severity.

Diagnosing Down Syndrome

These days, people can determine whether a fetus has Down syndrome by having tests conducted while it is still in the womb. There are two types of tests that are usually conducted in order to determine whether a baby is at risk for the condition, as well as to diagnose it altogether.

Screening tests are the first types of tests that are conducted on a fetus and these are done to determine whether the fetus is at risk for developing the condition. Diagnostic tests, on the other hand, involve amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling and they more accurately detect whether the baby has Down syndrome.

After a Diagnosis has been Confirmed

A baby that is born with Down syndrome will usually have to undergo a range of tests that will help medical professionals begin to put a picture together about the extent of the problem. Health checks will be conducted to determine eye, thyroid and ear functioning, and in the event that an issue is located, the professionals will then begin putting together a plan to tackle each and every one.

Physical and special needs therapy are both quite common methods of tackling some of the developmental issues associated with Down syndrome. When a child is young, this type of therapy will help them cope with schooling, learn to interact with others and generally assist in improving their quality of life. As the individual grows up, however, treatments such as occupational therapy will come in handy to assist them in obtaining the necessary skills to live on their own. Counseling can also play an integral role in their healthy functioning because it assists them in dealing with the emotional challenges that they will find along the way.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents who have just found out that their child has Down syndrome will want to make sure that they are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. It is generally a good idea to start out by learning everything there is to know about the condition, as well as start connecting with other parents who are going through the same thing, since they can offer advice and support. Making a list of the necessary resources, including doctors, therapists and special needs programs can also go a long way in helping people navigate these waters when they come to them.

Support, resources and information can go a long way in helping parents of children with Down syndrome assist their children in leading healthy, happy lives. For more information, visit nichd.nih.gov