Down Syndrome, aka, Trisomy is a hereditary condition that results in varying degrees of learning difficulty and some distinguishing physical characteristics. Children with Down Syndrome may find it challenging to develop independence and self-care abilities at the same as others.
If your child is also suffering from Down syndrome, don’t worry because your child can live a wonderful life with your help! Before we move on to how you can help yourdown syndrome child, let’s first understand what down syndrome is!
What Is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a group of cognitive and emotional characteristics caused by a genetic defect before birth. Children with Down syndrome exhibit different features, such as a flat face and a small neck. They also have an intellectual disability to some extent. This varies depending on the individual. However, in the majority of cases, it is low to moderate.
Down syndrome is a chronic condition that lasts a lifetime. However, with proper care and support, children with Down syndrome can grow up to lead healthy, pleasant, and productive lives.
Physical Characteristics of Down Syndrome
Every down syndrome child is unique, but there are some physical characteristics that are common to this disorder. Some of the physical characteristics shared by people with Down syndrome include:
● Low muscle tone
● Extra skin
● Slanted nose bridge
● Small ears and mouth
● Eyes that tilt upward
● Short, broad hands and short fingers
● White dots on the colored area of the eye
Each Down syndrome child may exhibit different traits to varying degrees.
Developmental Characteristics of Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is characterized by delays in development ranging from mild to severe, including:
● Delays in motor skill development such as walking, crawling, and sitting
● Delay in speech
● Difficulting in paying attention
● Feeding problems such as swallowing issues and/or picky eating
● Impulsive behavior
● Problems in organization skills and decision making
Causes of Down Syndrome
In every case of reproduction, the parents pass on their genes to their offspring, and these genes are incorporated into the chromosomes. When the child’s cells mature, each one inherits 23 pairs of chromosomes for 46 cells.
One of the chromosomes of children with Down syndrome differs slightly. Rather than two copies of chromosome 21, the child has three or an additional partial copy. This additional chromosome causes issues with brain development and physical growth. Children must be treated for Down syndrome as soon as possible.
Parents who have one kid with Down syndrome are more likely to have another child with Down syndrome.
How Is Down Syndrome Diagnosed?
The physical appearance of the newborn might be used to make the diagnosis after birth. A blood test will confirm the diagnosis to examine chromosomes. Two tests performed during pregnancy can determine whether or not the fetus has the Syndrome. The health care professional may also do heart-related testing. A new genetic test that uses a blood sample from the mother may detect Down Syndrome.
Medical Problems Associated with Down Syndrome
● Heart Defects at Birth
Congenital cardiac abnormalities affect 40 to 60 percent of Down syndrome babies. As a result, even if there is no murmur, all babies with the condition must have an ECG and screening echocardiography.
When a child with a heart abnormality is rapidly sent to a pediatric cardiologist for medication therapy to treat pulmonary hypertension. Moreover, pediatric surgeons are recommended for early surgical repair.
● Gastrointestinal Disorders
Down syndrome is also connected with a variety of gastrointestinal problems. An upper gastrointestinal series is also recommended to treat or confirm particular anomalies in an infant with eating or stooling issues. To rectify a gastrointestinal problem, immediate surgery may be required, and Down syndrome should not impede undergoing this procedure. Children with Down syndrome may also experience considerable gastroesophageal reflux. Another common issue is constipation, which is usually treatable with dietary changes.
● Ear, Nose, and Throat Issues
Older infants with Down syndrome are more prone to otitis media, sinusitis, and pharyngitis due to mid-facial abnormalities that limit proper sinus drainage. If a child’s small external canals prevent the physician from seeing the tympanic membranes, an ENT specialist may be required.
● Orthopedic Problems
Down syndrome is also linked to orthopedic issues. Infants and children who have these issues may require the services of a pediatric orthopedist, a physical therapist, or both. Surgery may be required to preserve function.
Before undergoing general anesthesia, radiographs of the flexed and extended cervical spine are indicated as screening tests for atlantoaxial instability.
● Endocrine Problems
Endocrine diseases, particularly thyroid dysfunction, are more common in Down syndrome infants. Because the indications of thyroid disease sometimes match those of Down syndrome, a sensitive thyroid-stimulating hormone test should be performed.
Down syndrome is also related to gonadal instability and a lack of growth hormone. These issues may necessitate hormonal therapy.
● Other Problems
Congenital cataracts are more common in Down syndrome children than in normal children. As a result, red reflexes should be tested at birth. A visit to a pediatric ophthalmologist during the first year of life is required to evaluate an infant for visual disorders that may be treatable.
Children with Down syndrome are significantly more likely to develop acute leukemia. Leukemia treatment is the same for children with Down syndrome as for other children. However, the toxicity of various chemotherapy drugs is exacerbated in Down syndrome patients.
In young children with Down syndrome, dental problems are common. As a result, proper oral cleanliness and preventive care are critical.
How Is Down Syndrome Treated?
Down syndrome does not have a specific treatment, and if treatment is required, it is usually for related health issues. Also, gastrointestinal blockage in a newborn, for example, may require extensive surgery soon after delivery, and certain heart defects can necessitate surgery as well.
● Physical Therapy
Therapists help children with Down syndrome in improving their coordination, strength, and endurance so that they can achieve gross motor skills.
● Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapists are knowledgeable of the factors involved in child development, medical conditions, psychological development, neurology, and therapeutic techniques. They help down syndrome children master their skills to achieve independence.
● Speech Therapy
As mentioned earlier, speech delay is one developmental issue with down syndrome children; therefore, speech therapists help them increase their coordination in the mouth to form words. They also teach them alternative techniques to communicate, including sign language.
● Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapists can assist children with Down syndrome to deal with common anger, frustration, and compulsive behavior. Parents and caregivers must understand how to assist a person with Down syndrome in dealing with frustration. Simultaneously, it is critical to promote independence.
- How Can You Care For Your Down Syndrome Child At Home?
If you are notified that your unborn child has Down syndrome, you must collaborate with your doctors to plan the birth. They will also plan for what may occur once your kid is born. Your kid will need various tests after birth to assess their heart function, hearing, eyesight, and overall wellness. This may need your infant to stay in the hospital longer than usual.
Love and care are the most crucial requirements for an infant, but your baby’s health may need to be adequately checked.
● As your child grows, be gentle and supportive as they learn to roll over, sit, stand,walk, talk, and other skills.
● Assist your infant in learning to speak.
Assist your small child in learning to walk, do the following:
● Make swimming motions with your baby’s arms and legs.
● Bounce your kid on your lap while holding them up in a standing position.
● Assist your baby is rolling over so that they can become stronger and more mobile.
● Maintain your baby’s sitting position while allowing them to lean forward for balance.
● Encourage your kid to use and control the main muscles in their legs, trunk, and arms, as well as the smaller muscles in their hands:
● Toys should be kept just out of your child’s reach. Please encourage your child to go out and get them.
● When carrying or holding your kid, make sure their legs are touching.
● Enroll your child in an early intervention program.
● Recognize that it is normal for your child to be tested and fail at times.
Institutions and therapy centers provide special education and training to youngsters behind in their mental development. Language skills may benefit from speech treatment, and physical therapy may be used to teach movement abilities. Feeding and task performance may benefit from occupational therapy. Mental health care can assist both parents and children deal with mood or behavior issues. Special educators are frequently required.
To establish whether the child requires special education and training, a health care expert should be consulted. The child must have regular doctor’s appointments.
We at Hope AMC provide the best therapy programs for children with down syndrome, and other special conditions. We have highly experienced pediatric ophthalmologist, pediatric orthopedist, physiotherapists and doctors. They will assess the current condition of your kid and suggest the best therapy plan to satisfy the unique needs of your child.