What health issues are commonly associated with Down syndrome?
Here are ten health issues associated with Down syndrome:
- Heart defects - As mentioned in a previous post, about half of the children with Down syndrome are born with some type of heart defect.
- Leukemia - Children with Down syndrome are many times more likely to develop either acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) than other children are, with an overall risk of about 2-3%.
- Infectious diseases - Since there are abnormalities in the immune systems of people with Down syndrome, they're more at risk of infectious diseases, such as pneumonia.
- Dementia - People with Down syndrome have an increased risk of dementia - signs and symptoms may begin around age 50. Those who have dementia also have a higher rate of seizures. A person with Down syndrome also has an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
- Sleep apnea - Because of soft tissue and skeletal changes that lead to the obstruction of their airways, children and adults with Down syndrome are at a greater risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Obesity - Research suggests that both the thyroid and a lower metabolic rate contribute to people with Down syndrome being overweight. This means that they burn fewer calories overall and need to exercise more to burn off the same number of calories.
- Vision problem - More than 60% of children with Down syndrome have vision problems, including cataracts. The risk of cataract increases with age. Other eye problems include nearnearsightedness, "crossed" eyes (strabismus), and rapid, involuntary eye movements.
- Hearing loss - About 70-75% of children with Down syndrome have some hearing loss.
- Hypothyroidism - The thyroid is a gland that makes hormones the body uses to regulate things such as temperature and energy. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid produces little to no thyroid hormone.
- Hypotonia - Poor muscle tone and low strength contribute to the delays our children have in rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and walking. Despite these delays, children with Down syndrome can learn to participate in physical activities like other children.
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