Everything you need to know about Down Syndrome
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Down Syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome. At the time of conception a baby inherits genetic information from its parents in the form of 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. In the case of Down syndrome, a child receives an extra chromosome 21, leading to a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. It’s this extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with this condition.
What to do when your unborn baby is diagnosed with it?
Receiving a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis can feel overwhelming. It may not be the path you envisioned, but knowing what to expect will give you the confidence to parent a child with Down Syndrome. While most expectant parents worry about which breast pump to use and which diapers to buy, the parents of a baby with DS will have to concentrate on things associated with it, like the health problems that might come along with it and the course of treatment and the resources that are available to help kids and their families who are living with this condition.
Though Down syndrome can’t be prevented, it can be detected before a child is born. Being mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for it will be the key to gliding through the early months.
Will your baby appear different from other babies?
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, babies with Down syndrome often share a specific and differentiated set of physical characteristics, which include:
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Small noses
- A round face with a slightly flat profile
- Hyperextending joints
- Muscle tone deficiency
- Larger gap in between the big toe and second toe
- A deep line down the center of the palm
- Breastfeeding helps
It is a well known fact that breastfeeding can naturally improve a baby’s immune system, but it is especially important for infants with Down syndrome, who have higher rates of infections and respiratory disorders, such as asthma. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, breastfeeding can also help a baby with Down syndrome by:
- Increasing muscle tone in the mouth and jaw that can later improve speech
- Increasing the development of neural connections in the brain by exposing the baby to skin-to-skin contact
- Improving digestion to help your baby’s body absorb more nutrients. Down syndrome babies generally experience bowel problems.
Because babies with Down syndrome have low muscle tone, they may have extra difficulty latching on to the breast. They are also known to be sleepier than other babies, so it might be hard to keep your baby awake through an entire feeding.
Likely Health Conditions
Babies with Down syndrome have an increased risk for having certain health conditions, so the sooner the right doctors and therapists are identified, the better it will be for the child’s well-being. Health issues commonly associated with Down syndrome include respiratory difficulties, heart defects, digestive issues, hearing loss and vision problems. Not every child born with Down syndrome will necessarily have these health concerns, but if you think your baby does, seek out help at the earliest so that it makes it easy for you and your baby to adjust.
People with Down syndrome have a greater quality of life and a longer life expectancy now as compared to earlier times. They can live fulfilled lives rich in social experiences, successful careers and even marriages. A child with this condition will fill the life of those around him with compassion, patience, humor and more joy than they could ever imagine. They also have a full range of emotions and attitudes, are creative and imaginative, and grow up to live independent lives needing varying degrees of support. Giving them the same care and attention like other children, and including them in community life will benefit them and help them lead a normal life.