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Down syndrome is a genetic condition. It affects childhood growth and development. People who have it may share similar features and health issues. They may learn to talk later than other children and have some intellectual disability. But every person's experience is different. And everyone with Down syndrome has unique strengths and abilities.
Down syndrome is caused by having an extra chromosome. This affects the way a baby's body and brain develop during pregnancy and after birth. Doctors don't know for sure what causes the extra chromosome.
People with Down syndrome may share similar features, such as almond-shaped eyes that tilt upward. They usually learn to talk later than other children and have some intellectual disability. Some people may also have certain health issues, such as a heart or breathing problem.
During pregnancy an ultrasound and a blood test can show if a fetus may be at risk for Down syndrome. Other tests can show if a fetus has Down syndrome. These include chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. A baby can be diagnosed after birth based on a physical exam.
A baby with Down syndrome will be tested for health problems soon after birth. These include eye, ear, or thyroid problems. The sooner any problems are found, the better they can be managed.
Regular doctor visits can help your child stay in good health. Most children with Down syndrome need speech therapy and physical therapy.
Teens and adults with Down syndrome may need occupational therapy to learn job skills and learn how to live on their own. If they need social and emotional support, counseling can help.
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Down syndrome is caused by having an extra chromosome. Usually a person has 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. A person with Down syndrome has 47.
Each chromosome carries a group of genes that tell the body and brain how to develop. Having an extra chromosome changes the way a baby's body and brain develop during pregnancy and after birth.
The extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome forms when cells don't divide like they usually do. This change in cell division might happen in the sperm or egg cell before a baby is conceived. Or it might happen after an egg is fertilized.
Although doctors know that Down syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome, they don't yet know what causes the change in cell divisions that creates it.
The genetic changes that cause Down syndrome can happen to anyone who is pregnant. But the risk of having a child with Down syndrome is higher if you are older than 35 when you are pregnant. The risk is also higher if either birth parent has a sibling or another child with Down syndrome.
People with Down syndrome can have a range of symptoms. They may share similar features, such as almond-shaped eyes that tilt upward. And they usually learn to talk later than other children and have some intellectual disability. But every person is different, and each will have unique strengths and abilities.
Some people may also have certain health issues, such as heart, intestine, ear, or breathing problems. These issues often lead to other problems, such as airway (respiratory) infections or hearing loss. But most of these problems can be treated.
Every person's experience of Down syndrome is different. This condition can cause intellectual disability and health problems. But different people will have different abilities and symptoms.
Children with Down syndrome may reach milestones later than other children. These include things like sitting, standing, walking, and talking. As they get older they may need help to manage feelings and relationships, much like other children and teens.
Teens and adults may need occupational therapy to learn important life skills. It can help them prepare to have a job and live as independently as possible, for example in group homes or apartments with support services.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if your baby or very young child with Down syndrome shows signs of:
Call a doctor now if:
Call a doctor if a person with Down syndrome:
Several tests can be done during pregnancy to find out if a fetus has Down syndrome. You may decide to have:
These include an ultrasound and a blood test during the first or second trimester. These tests can help show if a fetus is at risk for Down syndrome.
These include chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. They can show if a fetus has Down syndrome. You may want to have these tests if you have abnormal results from a screening test or if you are worried about Down syndrome.
Sometimes a baby is diagnosed after birth. A doctor may have a good idea that a baby has Down syndrome based on the way the baby looks and the results of a physical exam. To make sure, the baby's blood will be tested.
You can help your child stay healthy by scheduling routine checkups. This will help to find, manage, and monitor any diseases and health problems that people with Down syndrome have a higher chance of getting.
Doctors look for specific problems at certain ages, such as cataracts and other eye conditions during a baby's first year. These checkups are also a good time for you and the doctor to talk about any concerns you have.
It may take extra time for your child to learn and master skills. But with your help, your child can learn to walk, talk, and eat by themself. As they get older, you can support them as they make friends, find hobbies, and go to school. Later you can help your teen learn skills to prepare to have a job and live as independently as possible.
People with Down syndrome may develop health problems such as ear infections, dental problems, or heart problems. Treatments include:
If you are caring for a child who has special health care needs, it may be helpful to get support for yourself.
Think about joining a support group in your area, or even online. Support groups can be a source of emotional support for you and your child. These groups can help you connect with other parents who have a child with the same condition. They can also help you learn what resources you can find in your area.
You may also find counseling useful. A counselor can help you understand and manage the wide range of emotions you may feel.
You can help your child stay healthy by scheduling routine checkups. This will help to find, manage, and monitor any diseases and health problems that people with Down syndrome have a higher chance of getting. These checkups are also a good time for you and the doctor to talk about any concerns you have.
Many parents have some of the same concerns as their children grow. These may include:
Current as of: November 15, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review BoardAll Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
Current as of: November 15, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review BoardAll Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
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