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How will this affect my child? What will the future hold? And what can we expect? It’s natural to experience a sense of panic, but in today’s world, you can raise your child almost the same way that you would with a child without this genetic disorder.

As a parent when you first hear the diagnosis of Down syndrome, or Down’s syndrome as it is commonly called, a million things will go through your head all at once. How will this affect my child? What will the future hold? And what can we expect? It’s natural to experience a sense of panic, but in today’s world, you can raise your child almost the same way that you would with a child without this genetic disorder.

Types Of Down Syndrome

There are three types of Down Syndrome:

  • Trisomy 21
  • Translocation
  • Mosaicism
There is very little difference between the three types that can be physically seen, as the difference is at a chromosomal level. Trisomy 21 is the most common, with 95 percent of children with Down syndrome having this type, and Mosaicism is the rarest, with only two percent.

The Physical Effects Of Down Syndrome

Children with Down syndrome are easily recognizable because of the specific physical characteristics that exist regardless of the type of Down syndrome. These include:

  • Facial features that are flat
  • Small ears
  • Small head
  • Shortness of the neck
  • Tongue that bulges
  • Upward slanting eyes
  • Misshaped ears
  • Poor muscle tone

Although a baby born with Down syndrome will generally be normally sized, they have a slower rate of development, and there is often a degree of mental retardation, though this is not severe, usually mild or moderate. These development delays may result in:

  • Poor judgement
  • Shorter attention span
  • Learning difficulties
  • Impulsiveness
  • Behavior issues

There are several medical complications that can co-exist with Down syndrome, which are caused by chromosomal abnormality. These can include:

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Deafness or poor hearing
  • Vision problems
  • Cataracts
  • Problems with the hips
  • Constipation
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Teeth abnormalities
  • More prone to illness including ear infections, lung infections
  • Increased risk of leukemia
Although these medical complications can occur, it doesn’t mean that your child will develop all of them. The severity of the medical problems will also depend on the individual child and their physical characteristics. Ensuring your child has regular medical check-ups and investigations will help to prevent some of these problems, and help you manage any others that do occur.

What Should You Do First?

The very first thing you should do is to find out as much as possible about Down syndrome and learn what the ramifications may be for your child developmentally, physically, and socially. There is a vast amount of information available, but be sure to focus on reputable publications and sources, as there is also a lot of misinformation out there.

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