Friday, October 14, 2011

Downs Syndrome Awareness Month

By Diane Forrest, RN

A while back I saw a movie called The Ringer.  It was a story about a guy who had a large debt to pay, and decided to enter a contest for the prize money.  The contest was the Special Olympics, so he had to pretend to be mentally challenged. Many of the stars in this comedy had a condition called Down's syndrome.

Down's syndrome is a genetic condition where a person is born with 47 chromosomes instead of the usually 46.  Down syndrome is the most common single cause of human birth defects.  Down syndrome is the most common single cause of human birth defects.  There has been a spotlight placed on Down Syndrome recently with the campaign of Sarah Palin.  Her young son, Trig, has this disease.  Since this is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I would like to share some facts with you.

  • Excess skin at the nape of the neck;
  • Flattened nose;
  • Separated joints between the bones of the skull (sutures);
  • Single crease in the palm of the hand;
  • Small ears;
  • Small mouth;
  • Upward slanting eyes; and or
  • Wide, short hands with short fingers.

Children may also have delayed mental and social development.  As children with Down syndrome grow and become aware of their limitations, they may also feel frustration and anger
Children born with Down's syndrome can be diagnosed immediately upon appearance; however blood tests can be done to verify the number of chromosomes.  There is no treatment, however family support and education is extremely important.  

  • Airway blockage during sleep;
  • Compression injury of the spinal cord;
  • Endocarditis;
  • Eye problems;
  • Frequent ear infections and increased risk of other infections;
  • Hearing loss;
  • Heart problems;
  • Gastrointestinal blockage; and or
  • Weakness of the back bones at the top of the neck.

For ways you can help click on this site:

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