How many children have Down Syndrome?
According to The National Down Syndrome
Society, Down syndrome occurs in one out of every
733 live births.
No one knows for sure exactly what
causes Down syndrome or why Down syndrome occurs.
Sreening for Down syndrome
Around the 14th week of pregnancy
(times can differ between providers) Doctor’s
can perform a nuchal translucency test. This is an
ultrasound screening measuring the fold of tissue
behind the baby’s neck. Babies with Down syndrome
tend to have larger spaces.
A doctor will also take other measurements
of the fetus to see if other Down syndrome traits
can be identified. If the screenings return likely
for Down syndrome, a woman may choose if she’d
like further testing for a certain diagnosis or wait
until the child is born.
Diagnosing Down Syndrome
Diagnostic testing tends to be more
invasive, uncomfortable for the woman and comes with
An Amniocentesis can be performed
right around the time of other prenatal tests. A needle
is placed through the abdomen. Guided with an ultrasound
and amniotic fluid is then extracted and tested for
Down syndrome. Another diagnostic test is CVS or Chorionic
Villa Sampling. With CVS, a needle is inserted through
the abdomen to retrieve a piece of placenta for testing.
CVS can be done earlier that an amniocentesis, but
comes with greater risks of miscarriage and preterm
Many women opt out of all prenatal
tests. They accept whatever gift they are given. Some
women prefer to be prepared.
Down syndrome can be diagnosed at
birth. Children with Down syndrome tend to exhibit
the following characteristics: low muscle tone, upward
slanting of the eyes, a single crease across the palm
of the hands, small head, flat bridge of nose and
hyper flexibility of the joints.
Having a child with Down Syndrome
The National Association for Down
Syndrome states that approximately 40% of all Down
syndrome children have some sort of congenital heart
defect. They also suggest that an echocardiogram be
performed on all newborns with Down syndrome to identify
any serious cardiac problems. Most of these problems
can be corrected with surgery.
Babies with Down syndrome tend to
develop at a slower rate than their peers. Gastrointestinal
problems are also common in children with Down syndrome.
Due to low muscle tone, constipation can be a real
problem. Doctor's and parents need to closely monitor
their child output due to constipation also being
a sign of hypothyroidism, a common condition in children
with Down syndrome.
Each child with Down Syndrome differs.
The level of disability varies from child to child.
Some are only affected slightly, others more severely.
It is recommended that infants with Down syndrome
be enrolled in early intervention as soon as possible.
Early intervention consists of physical, occupational
and speech therapy.
Many children with Down syndrome go
on to enjoy formal education with their peers, attend
post-high school education and lead happy productive
lives. Individuals with Down syndrome however, can
not make children of their own since they are sterile.
Society’s attitude towards Down
Syndrome has changed for the positive. People are
finding out that those with Down’s are not all
that different from everyone else. For every delay,
there is a special quality that makes up for what
they are lacking.
Many emotions are involved when a
diagnosis of Down Syndrome is made. Down syndrome
occurs at conception. There is nothing a mother did
or could have avoided to change the diagnosis. The
best way to care and be prepared for a new child with
Down syndrome is to surround yourself with support
and research the topic.
Rebecca Pillar 2007