For children and adults with down syndrome
People with Down syndrome are at increased risk for certain health problems compared to the general population. Congenital heart defects, increased susceptibility to infection, respiratory and hearing problems, obstructed digestive tracts, thyroid conditions, and sleep apnea occur with greater frequency in persons with Down syndrome. However, with advances in medical care, most heart defects are correctable with surgery, most health issues are treatable and people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives, with a life expectancy of 55 years.
The Down Syndrome Health Guidelines, compiled by the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group, and specialized growth charts, assists families and medical professionals in providing appropriate medical and preventative care. They were designed to define for parents what is needed, so they can communicate with their primary care physician and say, This is what is recommended. This is what we need to do. It is a helpful tool for physicians because it defines the medical vulnerabilities and the necessary screenings. Most pediatricians only care for a few children with Down syndrome in their practice, and although they may be knowledgeable about the current recommendations, they dont keep up-to-date in the same way as parents, who become experts about the needs of their children. In essence, parents need to be educated to be the educator for the physician.
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