It is heartening to consider that there has been astounding improvement in the health of people with Down Syndrome over the past few decades. Through innovation in medical technology, the typical lifespan of a person with Down Syndrome is nearly the same as all people. Equally important, the quality of life of persons with Down Syndrome has improved vastly due to advancements in cardiology, nutrition and behavioral sciences.
Despite this however, people with Down Syndrome have health care needs above and beyond standard medical care. The following sections can provide you with more details on conditions that are more likely to occur in a person with Down Syndrome as well as basic health care guidelines that should be followed during the lifespan of a person with Down Syndrome.
Associated Conditions with Down Syndrome:
- ADHD & Down Syndrome – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a commonly diagnosed childhood problem. ADHD is characterized by consistent demonstration of the following traits: decreased attention span, impulsive behavior and excessive fidgeting or other nondirected motor activity. All children, including children with Down syndrome, display these traits from time to time. But a child with Down syndrome may exhibit these traits more often than other children his or her age.
- Alzheimer’s Disease & Down Syndrome – Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome share a genetic connection, leading to the increased risk of dementia at an earlier age. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that gradually destroys brain cells, affecting a person’s memory and their ability to learn, make judgments, communicate and carry out basic daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is not inevitable in people with Down syndrome. Estimates show that Alzheimer’s disease affects about 30% of people with Down syndrome in their 50s. By their 60s, this number comes closer to 50%.
- Blood Diseases & Down Syndrome – Individuals with Down syndrome frequently show abnormalities in the blood cells and sometimes these abnormalities can lead to serious medical problems such as cancer of the blood cells i.e. leukemia.
- Dental Issues & Down Syndrome -T he teeth of people with Down syndrome, both baby teeth and permanent teeth, may come in late compared to children without Down Syndrome. Frequently, they may also have smaller than average teeth and even missing teeth.
- Dual Diagnosis of Down Syndrome & Autism – Autism spectrum disorder occurs more frequently in individuals with Down syndrome than in the general population.
- Ear, Nose & Throat Issues (ENT) – ENT problems are common in individuals with Down Syndrome. These include chronic ear infections, hearing loss, sleep apnea and airway obstruction, as well as chronic rhinitis (inflammation of the mucus membranes of the nose and mucus discharge) and sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus membranes).
- The Heart & Down Syndrome – Abnormalities of the cardiovascular system are common in Down syndrome. Approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect.
- Vision & Down Syndrome – Down syndrome has effects on the developing eye which can impact the proper development of vision. Eye disease is reported in over half of patients with Down Syndrome, from less severe problems such as tear duct abnormalities to vision threatening diagnoses such as early age cataracts.
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