How is Down syndrome treated?

Treatment for Down syndrome varies. It typically starts in early childhood. The purpose is for you and your child with Down syndrome to learn to cope with the condition, as well as treat what physical and cognitive (thinking) challenges arise.

Your providers may help you develop a care team for your family member with Down syndrome. The care team may include:

  • Primary care providers to monitor growth, development, medical concerns and provide vaccinations.
  • Medical specialists depending on the needs of the person (for example, cardiologist, endocrinologist, geneticist, hearing and eye specialists).
  • Speech therapists to help them communicate.
  • Physical therapists to help strengthen their muscles and improve motor skills.
  • Occupational therapists to help refine their motor skills and make daily tasks easier.
  • Behavioral therapists to help manage emotional challenges that can come with Down syndrome.

What other medical conditions are associated with Down syndrome?

People with Down syndrome often have associated medical conditions that are either present at birth or develop over time. These can often be managed by medications or other care. Common conditions of Down syndrome can include:

  • Heart problems, frequently present at birth.
  • Thyroid abnormalities.
  • Hearing and vision problems.
  • Low fertility rate in males with the syndrome. Around 50% of women with Down syndrome are able to bear children, but the risk of the child having the condition is between 35%-50%.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Gastrointestinal problems, like constipation, gastroesophageal reflux (when fluid from the stomach re-enters the esophagus) and celiac disease (intolerance for wheat protein).
  • Autism, with challenges with social skills, communication and repetitive behaviors.
  • Alzheimer’s disease, which causes memory and thinking problems in older age.

Is there a cure for Down syndrome or can it go away in time?

No. Down syndrome is a lifelong condition and right now there isn’t a cure. But many health problems associated with the condition are treatable.

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