Caring for a child with Down’s syndrome

What is Down’s Syndrome?

Down’s syndrome is a genetic disorder of chromosome 21, the patient is born with an extra chromosome. This extra chromosome form tissues that affects both mentally and physically. Down’s syndrome is a lifelong condition.

Types of Down’s Syndrome

  • Trisomy 21: This is the most common type in which the person has 3 copies of chromosome 21.
  • Mosaic Down syndrome: This is the rare form in which a person has only some cells with an extra copy of chromosome 21.
  • Translocation Down syndrome: In this type, a portion of chromosome 21 becomes attached onto another chromosome, before or at conception.

Babies born with Down’s Syndrome have the following health issues:

  • Feeding issues: Babies born with Down’s syndrome take time to learn how to suck a bottle or breastfeed.
  • Heart problems: Babies suffering from Down’s syndrome are born with heart defects that may require surgery within the first year.
  • Hearing defects: Some babies may have partial hearing loss.
  • Vision problems: Eye problems that require glasses or cataracts.
  • Developmental milestones: Baby may reach all the developmental milestones like crawling, walking, feeding etc. a little late.

Children suffering from Down’s Syndrome have the following features:

  • Flattened face, small head & short height
  • Short neck
  • Protruding tongue
  • Upward slanting eye lids
  • Small ears
  • Poor muscle tone & increased flexibility
  • Broad, short hands with a single crease in the palm
  • Relatively short fingers and small hands and feet.

Treatment of Down’s Syndrome:

Early childhood intervention

This means getting the treatment & support for the child as soon as possible. This includes special education, counselling, therapies like speech or occupational therapy & family support.

Benefits of early childhood intervention:

  • includes you and other family members
  • offers care at home
  • develops child’s skills, as needed
  • employs staff with special training in disability
  • creates a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable
  • giving advice to you and your family
  • assesses your child’s progress at regular intervals

Normal Speech Development

It involves early detection & treatment of a speech disorder or language delay. It helps in the development of facial muscles for speech, feeding and swallowing and to help the child learn to communicate effectively.

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