Down Syndrome

Special Needs > Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. The condition leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities. The baby with Down syndrome has a hallmark appearance. Commonly, there is a small head and short neck, a flat face, and upward slanting eyes. Ears are flat and positioned lower than “normal.” The tongue protrudes and seems to be too large for the mouth. Hands tend to be wide, with short fingers and there is just a single flexion crease in the palm. Joints tend to be more flexible and muscles may lack tone.

The patient may have growth retardation and though as a baby may be normal size, will not grow as tall. Average height for an adult male with Down syndrome is 5 ft 1 in and for a female it is 4 ft 9 in. Bow leggedness is common. Obesity occurs with aging. There is decreased mental function and the IQ may range from mild disability (50 to 70) to moderate (35 to 50). There can be language development delay both from hearing impairment and speech delay. Gross motor skills like crawling and walking can be slow to mature and fine motor skills may take time to develop.

Individuals with Down syndrome can have abnormalities affecting general health that may affect any organ system or bodily function. They have an increased risk of congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, epilepsy, and thyroid conditions.

There is no cure for Down syndrome. Education and proper care have been shown to improve quality of life. Some children with Down syndrome are educated in typical school classes, while others require more specialized education.[

Down syndrome is a lifelong condition. But with care and support, children who have Down syndrome can grow up to have healthy, happy, productive lives.