Down syndrome effects

Down syndrome, as many of us probably know, has an effect on physical appearance. But not only are there signs visible to the naked eye—almond-shaped eyes, flat nose, and shorter limbs—there are also effects related to nearly every organ system in the body. The immune system, learning ability, eyes, hearing, thyroid, bone, muscle, nerves, and the joints, as well as development, are in some way affected by Down syndrome.

What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome, which is also known as Trisomy 21, is a condition in which the person with the syndrome has extra genetic material that delays the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. It is called Trisomy 21 because often the extra genetic material comes from an extra chromosome 21. There are varying degrees of the severity of the medical problems associated with Down syndrome, anywhere from needing hardly any medical help to needing a lot of medical intervention. There is no cure for Down syndrome, but it is easy to detect in utero so the parents can be prepared for treatment; treatment of the various medical problems is successful.

Effects of Down Syndrome
As mentioned above, there are various avenues in which the effects of Down syndrome are noticed.

Physical characteristics

The facial features of a child with Down syndrome, and in an adult for that matter, are very characteristic. The features tend to be a flat facial profile, almond-shaped eyes that slant slightly upward, small ears, and a protruding tongue.

Muscular characteristics
The muscle tone in those with Down syndrome tends to be lower than in others without Down syndrome. Though this can improve over time, and often does, children with Down syndrome tend to sit up, crawl, and walk later than other children. Poor muscle tone may cause problems with sucking and feeding with infants during the time of breastfeeding or bottle feeding; constipation and digestion may present additional problems.

Growth and development
Children with Down syndrome are typically born at an average size, both height and weight, but through the stages of growth and development, children with Down syndrome grow slower than the average kid.

Speech and self-care skills

Children with Down syndrome are affected in skills like feeding, speech, dressing, and toilet training.

Learning disability
Most children with Down syndrome are affected intellectually. However, these children are more than capable of learning; the only difference is that they tend to reach milestones, all kinds of milestones, at a different pace than other children.

Congenital heart defect
This is one of the medical problems that nearly all children with Down syndrome are born with. A congenital heart defect is simply an abnormality in the heart’s structure.

Pulmonary hypertension
Children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk of developing pulmonary hypertension, which is abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs that can cause irreversible damage to the lungs.

Hearing and vision
About half of children with Down syndrome have hearing and vision problems. Hearing loss is usually either due to fluid buildup or an abnormality with the structure of the ear; vision problems are usually related to farsightedness, an increased risk of cataracts, and having a lazy eye.

Higher risk problems

Children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for the following: thyroid problems, intestinal abnormalities, seizures, respiratory problems, obesity, infections due to a lower functioning immune system, and a higher risk of childhood leukemia.

As mentioned previously, there is no cure for Down syndrome itself, but there are treatments available to cure the symptoms and side effects of Down syndrome. It is important that the child is evaluated by a physician regularly so the necessary treatments can be started.

Last updated on Dec 17th, 2010 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed