Down Syndrome (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Adults with Down Syndrome
Adults with Down syndrome age prematurely. This leads to an increased risk for memory loss, dementia, late-onset seizures (tonic-clonic seizures in particular), and hypothyroidism. Many individuals will show signs of dementia and develop early-onset Alzheimer's disease by age 40. By the age of 60, a majority of adults with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer's disease. Since individuals with Down syndrome are already cognitively impaired, it is challenging to diagnose dementia in this population.
Down Syndrome Treatment
There is currently no treatment for Down syndrome. Although the genetic cause of Down syndrome is known, scientists are only just beginning to understand which extra genes are responsible for which aspect of Down syndrome. A large part of current research focuses on understanding how cognition is impaired in Down syndrome and on finding therapies that might improve cognition. With the help of Down syndrome mouse models, some progress has been made toward finding potential drugs that might improve cognition, but it is too early for human studies.
Some individuals with cardiac and gastrointestinal anomalies will need corrective surgery soon after birth. Regular screening for vision problems, hearing loss, ear infections, hypothyroidism, and other medical conditions should be performed.
Early intervention programs, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, are helpful. Special education and training for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities is offered in most communities.
Adolescents and young adults should receive proper education regarding sexual development and contraception.
Inclusion in family and community life is very important for the well-being of people with Down syndrome.
Outlook for a Person with Down Syndrome
The overall outlook for individuals with Down syndrome has improved dramatically in recent years due to better medical treatment and social inclusion. However, life expectancy is still reduced compared to the normal population.
Congenital heart disease is the major cause for early death.
Many people with Down syndrome show signs of dementia and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease by age 40 years.
Down Syndrome Screening
Diagnosis of Down syndrome before birth can be very useful. Parents can learn about Down syndrome before the arrival of their baby and prepare accordingly; particularly to assess immediate medical needs such as heart and gastrointestinal conditions.
Several invasive diagnostic tests reliably detect Down syndrome. Most of these procedures carry a small risk of pregnancy loss.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017
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