Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Statistics

Down Syndrome is a relatively common disorder affecting 1 child out of 1,000 live births. It occurs as a result of an extra chromosome 21. Each person has 23 pairs of chromosomes, totaling 46 chromosomes in all. However, a person with the condition has 47 chromosomes – with an additional chromosome 21. Though medical advancements have failed to provide clues as to why this form of congenital disorder occurs; it has helped, however, in improving the lives of those afflicted by it, even to the point of lengthening their life expectancy.

Down Syndrome in adults has become more common these days. Many of the affected individuals live longer and happier lives. Some are even able to get a degree, have a stable job, live semi-independently and even get married. Medical intervention and strong family support have been huge factors in helping the people suffering this form of disorder reach and have a fuller adulthood.

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Signs and Symptoms of Down Syndrome

The syndrome is already perceptible at birth. Remarkably, those affected by it almost look the same as they share similar physical characteristics. This is primarily because the chromosome in question is chromosome 21.

Down Syndrome is evident at birth by the following physical features:

  • Upward slant eyes
  • Flat face
  • Low and oddly-shaped ears
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Extra skin at the rear of the neck

Meanwhile, Down Syndrome in adult is characterized by:

  • Abnormal teeth
  • Stunted broad hands
  • Flat nose bridge
  • Gaping mouth
  • Skin folds on the eyelids
  • Brachycephaly
  • Protruding tongue

Down Syndrome Life Expectancy

There had been a threefold increase to the life expectancy of Down Syndrome patients for the past decades. The average age that patients are expected to live in 1929 was 9 years. However, modern diagnostic tests and early screening, as well as a more active participation of the community, had greatly contributed to helping Down Syndrome patients reach adulthood. Now, the average life expectancy of DS patients is 50, with one reportedly reaching the age of 83.

Yet, DS mortality is still possible and often occurs between the 1st and 5th years of a child’s life. This is due to the heart defects associated with the syndrome, making cardiac deaths a possibility. The chance of survival and reaching adulthood significantly increases up to 80% after these crucial years; and there is a 60% chance of reaching 50 years of age.

Adult patients may be allowed to stay in community group residences or with their own families. Some are able to find jobs in offices, restaurants, hotels and nursing homes. Others enter family life and raise children. However, women with Down syndrome are at risk of having miscarriages.

Treatment for Down Syndrome

Premature death could occur because of the medical conditions and health complications associated to Down Syndrome. However, there are several factors that can help improve the prognosis of Down syndrome patients, these are:

  • Early intervention

Timely medical intervention helps a lot in improving the prognosis of Down syndrome. The patient will be subjected through programs that are designed to address the problems and disabilities faced by individual, thus, helping him/her cope with the condition early on.

  • Proper treatment

Treatment of Down Syndrome also involves using medications for specific conditions. This may also include therapies like physical, speech and occupational therapy. Physical therapy helps in improving the motor skills of the patient, whereas speech therapy resolves speech problems by helping him/her learn how to speak properly and clearly. Occupational therapy, meanwhile, aids the patient in learning the necessary skills when making transitions.

  • Regular checkups

As part of the treatment program of Down Syndrome, this ensures that the patient is in top form and helps identify possible problems early. Several screening tests may be requested for early detection of infections and other medical conditions.

Down Syndrome Facts

Medical conditions and problems are an inevitable part of Down Syndrome even if the patient reaches adulthood. Some of these are:

  • Hypothyroidism

This is quite common among adult patients and thyroid function tests are done annually.

  • Cataracts and hearing loss

Cataracts and hearing loss are also common among adult patients of Down syndrome. Patients are required to see their ear and eye doctors throughout their life to detect vision and hearing problems.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

This disease is common and normal in adult patients due to aging.

  • Psychiatric disorders

Psychiatrists find it difficult to detect psychiatric disorders among DS patients because the intellectual aspect of the patient is also affected, although the extent of damage differs from person to another. Still, are mental healthcare professionals specializing in this field.

  • Behavioral problems

Though behavioral problems are common among Down Syndrome sufferers, they are rarely violent or destructive. The doctor will thoroughly assess the underlying cause and not just contain the symptoms.

Down Syndrome pictures

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