All children with Down’s Syndrome (DS) show
developmental delays, but less than 5% of individuals with DS are
severely to profundly retarded.
Most such 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 DS are capable of working in a supportive employment
SYMPTOMS: Your doctor 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, generalised
hypotonia (limpness) and some other features. A heart defect may
also be present.
You 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’s 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 get a child with this syndrome.
MANAGEMENT: With loving care and training, most of these children can learn many skills
under a programme
for early intervention. Your doctor will refer your child
for such training. Drugs will not be of any help unless the child
has proven deficiency of the thyroid hormone or has an
infection (Down’s 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 you decide to have another child, certain tests during pregnancy can guide you as to
whether your second child could be affected by the same condition or not.
Fortunately, all the children with Down’s 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.
7 March, 2016