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Health Issues of People with Down Syndrome

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Did you know that people with Down syndrome are at a higher risk for certain health conditions?

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most common health issues faced by people with Down syndrome and what can be done to help them stay healthy.

We hope this information will be helpful for you or someone you know with affected by Down syndrome.

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition. It occurs when a person has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material changes the course of development, causing the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is the most frequently occurring chromosomal condition; currently, an estimated 400,000 individuals in the US live with Down syndrome.

This condition occurs in people of all racial and ethnic groups and is typically identified at birth or during prenatal screening.

People with Down syndrome often have physical traits

  • low muscle tone
  • small stature
  • an upward slanting of the eyes
  • a single crease across the palm

They may also have cognitive delays and require developmental and health intervention services. However, people with Down syndrome develop at different rates and possess varying degrees of ability, just like any other individual.

With early diagnosis, intervention services, and appropriate support, people with Down syndrome can lead active and fulfilling lives within their families and communities.

Health risks associated with Down syndrome

People with Down syndrome often have physical and mental health problems. Some of the more common health risks associated with Down syndrome.

Congenital heart defects

About half of babies with Down syndrome are born with congenital heart defects. The most common type of defect is called an atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD). This defect occurs when holes in the walls separate the upper chambers of the heart.

Other congenital heart defects associated with Down syndrome include patent ductus arteriosus, tetralogy of Fallot, and transposition of the great arteries.

Alzheimer’s disease

Unfortunately, people with Down syndrome are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that people with Down syndrome have a higher risk of developing dementia as they age.

Down syndrome is also associated with a higher risk of developing other neurological conditions, such as epilepsy and an autism spectrum disorder.

Thyroid problems

People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for thyroid problems. About 5% of babies with Down syndrome are born with congenital hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This can lead to growth delays and intellectual disabilities if left untreated.

People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for developing other thyroid problems, such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease, later in life.

Dental problems

People with Down syndrome are more likely to have dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease. They may also have smaller teeth, an abnormally shaped jaw, or teeth crowding.

People with Down syndrome need to see a dentist regularly and get proper dental care to identify and treat these problems early.

Ear problems

People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for ear problems. They may have a higher incidence of middle ear infections and hearing loss. People with Down syndrome must regularly test their hearing to identify and treat problems early.

Celiac disease

People with Down syndrome are at increased risk for developing Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive system. People with Celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. This can lead to diarrhoea, weight loss, and fatigue.

Sleep apnoea

People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for sleep apnea, a condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause fatigue, irritability, and problems with concentration. It can also lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Obesity

People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for obesity. This is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including a sedentary lifestyle and a diet high in calories. Obesity can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Down syndrome and health care

People with Down syndrome require lifelong medical care. They should see a doctor regularly to monitor for health problems and to receive preventive care. People with Down syndrome need a team of health care providers who are familiar with their condition and can provide them with the best possible care.

People with Down syndrome must also be aware of common health problems, signs, and symptoms to seek medical care early if necessary. The health issues discussed above are just a few of the many conditions that people with Down syndrome may be at risk for.

It’s important to remember that every person with Down syndrome is unique and will not necessarily experience all these health problems. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks so that you can seek medical care early if necessary.

How can people with Down syndrome improve their health and well-being?

People with Down syndrome can improve their health and well-being by following these simple steps.

  • Get regular medical checkups and screenings. This will help catch any health problems early when they are most easily treated.
  • Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercises. This will help to maintain a healthy weight, which is important for overall health.
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use. These substances can damage the already delicate health balance in people with Down syndrome.
  • Take steps to manage stress. This can include relaxation techniques, regular exercise, and talking to a therapist or counsellor.

People with Down syndrome can improve their health and well-being by following these steps.

While Down syndrome can be associated with challenges, many programs and resources are available to help people with Down syndrome live happy, healthy lives.

Support for families of people with Down syndrome

Families of people with Down syndrome often need support and resources to help them navigate the challenges associated with the condition.

Many organisations, such as the National Down syndrome Society, provide support and resources for families. These organisations can provide information about medical care, educational resources, and financial assistance.

In addition, many online support groups are available for families of people with Down syndrome. These groups can provide a sense of community and allow families to connect with others facing similar challenges.

Groups and organisations that provide support for families of people with Down syndrome

  • National Down syndrome Society. The National Down syndrome Society is a national organisation that provides support and resources for families of people with Down syndrome. They offer information about medical care, educational resources, and financial assistance.
  • Down Syndrome Education International. Down syndrome Education International is an international organisation that provides support and resources for families of people with Down syndrome. They offer information about medical care, educational resources, and financial assistance.
  • Online support groups. Online support groups provide a sense of community and allow families to connect with others facing similar challenges.

No matter the challenges a family faces, support is always available. With the right resources, families of people with Down syndrome can thrive.

Bottom line

Down syndrome is a condition that can cause a variety of health problems. However, there are many steps that people with Down syndrome can take to improve their health and well-being.

In addition, many support groups and resources are available to help families of people with Down syndrome navigate the challenges associated with the condition.

If you or someone you know has Down syndrome, many resources are available to help. Talk to your doctor or a genetic counsellor for more information. You can also contact the National Down syndrome Society or another support organisation for more information and resources.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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