The Complications of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a condition that may be bound to stay for life. Patients and health care providers need to understand the risks, as well as detect the early signs to provide the right methods. Complications of Down syndrome can also be life threatening, depending on the response of the patients and the treatment techniques used. Here are more tips.

The Known Complications

Children having the condition can display several complications. One of the problems is heart defect, which occurs in about 50% of patients with Down syndrome. These individuals are already born with a type of heart defect that can be life threatening or cause disability for life. Surgery may be required during the early stages of infancy to alleviate the abnormality. Infectious disease is another complication that can occur due to the abnormal immune systems of patients. Individuals with the syndrome are more prone to getting a variety of diseases and infections. The risk of getting pneumonia is higher compared to people who do not have the problem.

Leukemia can also occur because of the association with the weakened immune system. Dementia can occur later in life. There is a heightened risk for this complication, appearing in patients before the age of 40. Other problems can also manifest although not as common, such as hearing loss, poor vision, gastrointestinal blockage and thyroid problems. At present, the life span of individuals with Down syndrome has increased compared 100 years ago. Down syndrome patients today can expect to live to the age of 50 years or more, depending on the response and severity of the condition. Early detection, interventions and coping mechanisms have helped a lot boost life expectancy.

Statistics of the Complications

40% to 50% of kids with Down syndrome develop congenital heart defects according to the Association for Children with Down Syndrome in the United States. 100% of individuals afflicted with the condition will also develop physical signs of Alzheimer’s once they reach the age of 35. Having the problem boosts the risk of developing leukemia 15 to 20 times more. Check for the early signs and other abnormalities that may be displayed by patients for early diagnosis and treatment.

The complications of Down Syndrome are actually secondary symptoms, conditions or disorders that stemmed from the actual syndrome. In several cases, it may be unclear or hard to distinguish the differences between complications and symptoms of Down syndrome. Asking for a second opinion or more tests can help.

List of Complications

Other included complications for Down syndrome include mental retardation, difficulty breastfeeding, enlarged tongue, round facial features, flattened facial features, hypothyroidism, conductive hearing loss, respiratory infections, immune system abnormalities, pneumonia (62 times higher compared to normal individuals), leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, congenital deafness, congenital heart disease, congenital intestinal atresia, vision disorders, cataracts, seizures, constipation, transient myelodysplasia, atlantoaxial instability, dementia, memory loss, impaired judgment or cognitive impairment, reduced sperm count and premature aging.

More Possible Problems

Other possible conditions that may arise include nausea, vomiting, brachycephaly, dizziness, brachydactyly, palmoplantar keratosis, hypotonia, atral septal defect, nystagmus, intrauterine growth retardation, odontoid hypoplasia, abnormal dermatoglyphics, hearing loss, abdominal pain, facies abnormality, tooth eruption delayed, Brushfield’s spots, testosterone levels low (serum), uric acid levels raised (plasma or serum), hypothyroidism, bowel obstruction, atlantoaxial subluxation, ventricular septal defect, short stature, bowel obstruction, alpha fetoprotein levels low (serum), tooth loss, macroglossia and perinatal morbidity.

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