Understanding Down Syndrome -- Diagnosis and Treatment
What Are the Treatments for Down Syndrome?
Although there is no cure for Down syndrome, children born with the condition can lead productive lives. Everyone born with Down syndrome exhibits some level of cognitive impairment, but this usually falls within the mild to moderate range. Just like other children, babies with Down syndrome will learn basic skills -- such as sitting, walking, talking, and self-care (such as toilet training and bathing) -- but they will do so at a delayed pace. Early intervention programs, including physical therapy, begun shortly after birth, can help strengthen muscles for these basic motor skills.
Regular medical care to treat the chronic health problems associated with Down syndrome is also important. Children with Down syndrome should receive regular vision and hearing testing, be evaluated for thyroid dysfunction, and receive the regular childhood immunizations.
Over the years, a variety of laws have been passed to provide people with disabilities, including Down syndrome, equal protection under the law. These laws include Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. Children with Down syndrome can attend school, and many join regular classes. They are able to participate in recreational, vocational, and social activities in their communities.
Some adults with Down syndrome live with their families; some live in group homes with other individuals with Down syndrome; and others live independently. Many people with Down syndrome hold jobs. The opportunities for people with Down syndrome are great, and there is no reason not to expect these individuals to make lasting, positive contributions to society.
How Can I Prevent Down Syndrome?
There is no way to prevent Down syndrome. However, scientists continue to learn more about the genetic basis of Down syndrome and hope that in the future it will be possible to improve, correct, or prevent many of the problems associated with the condition.
There are studies suggesting that some women who have had a child with Down syndrome abnormally process folic acid. If confirmed, this finding provides another reason why all women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.