All children with Down syndrome (DS) show developmental delays, but less than 5% of individuals with Down Syndrome are severely retarded.
Generally, these children have a very pleasing personality and get along well with the people they come into contact with. They are able to look after themselves, most can learn to read and are capable of attending a regular school, provided they are given special educational help. About 90% of individuals with this syndrome are capable of working in a supportive employment setting.
Symptoms of Down Syndrome:
Doctors may suspect the condition at birth. Children with DS have a few typical features like almond-shaped eyes slanting upwards, a fold of skin at the junction of the eye and the nose, a single transverse crease of the palm, a relatively large tongue, generalized hypotonia (limpness) and some other features. A heart defect may also be present.
Parents may suspect DS because the child may have difficulty in suckling at the breast and may be slow in learning new skills when compared to his siblings or other children. The diagnosis is confirmed by doing a blood test, which reveals abnormality of the chromosomes in the child.
While it is true that the risk of getting a child with Down syndrome increases with rising maternal age, only 3.5% of Down's births occur to women aged over 35 years. So younger women can also give birth to a child with this syndrome.
Management of Down's Syndrome:
With loving care and training, most of these children can learn many skills under a programme for early intervention. Drugs will not be of any help unless the child has proven deficient of the thyroid hormone or has an infection (Down syndrome children are more prone to infections than normal children). Those having a heart disease may or may not require surgery. At times, congenital abnormalities of the intestinal tract may also need attention.
In case the parents decide to have another child, certain tests during pregnancy, especially sonography, must be done to understand whether the second child could also be affected by the same condition. Fortunately, all the children with Down syndrome that I have seen so far have had a normal sibling. But the possibility that the second child may also be affected does arise.
Source: Book – Guide to Child Care by Dr R K Anand
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