Saturday, October 15, 2016

Day 14: What should medical professionals say?

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 14

What advice should I give as a medical professional?

Parents who receive the news that their baby has Down syndrome often remember all of the details surrounding it, where they were, what time of day it was, etc.

Conversations should start with positive words, avoiding language that conveys pity or sorrow, and not involve unsolicited personal opinions. Accurate, up-to-date information should be communicated, and information offered for local support groups and community resources.

While you may be required to tell a parent all of their options, please do not continuously repeat that the mother has the option of aborting her baby.... presenting her with her options is one thing, talking about it more than that is borderline harassment. Don't tell them that their child will "suffer" from a "low quality of life".

Use facts and logic when you talk to them. Mention what I've said the previous 13 days. Yes, there are health complications commonly associated with Down syndrome. However, that certainly isn't the only thing about Down syndrome. Mention that with medical technology available today, the life expectancy for children with Down syndrome has increased from 10 years to 60 years. Children with Down syndrome are graduating high school, holding jobs, and can even live on their own. It's not all roses but it isn't professional to only point out the negatives associated with the diagnosis.

Again, I point out that a link to local support groups can be found in the day 8 post.

Octavia says that we're more alike than different!

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