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Down Syndrome In Children – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21 is a condition that leads to developmental delays, both mentally and physically. This happens when a child gets additional genetic material from chromosome 21. It occurs in about 1 in 800 births and is more prevalent in boys born to women ages 35 and up. The effects of Down syndrome in children are a case by case basis. Others live healthy lives while some need serious medical assistance.


Down syndrome is caused by an error in cell distribution during the development of the egg or sperm. There are 3 genetic variations that can cause Down syndrome:

  • Trisomy 21 – The most common cause of Down syndrome. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. A child gets chromosomes from the father (23) and the mother (23), a total of 46 chromosomes. However, when a child gets an extra copy of chromosome 21 in “all of his cells”, it becomes 47 chromosomes. That extra chromosome causes setbacks with the way the body and mind develop.
  • Mosaic Down Syndrome – An uncommon form of Down syndrome. Occurs when children have “some cells” with an extra copy of chromosome 21.
  • Translocation Down Syndrome – Arises when part of chromosome 21 gets connected onto another chromosome before or during delivery.


Some common signs of Down syndrome include:

  • Head is smaller than normal
  • Excess skin at the neck
  • Small ears
  • Tilted eyes
  • Flat nose
  • Obtruding tongue
  • Uneven teeth and delayed dental development
  • Wide, short hands
  • Short height
  • The big toe and second toe are apart
  • Behaviour problems like autism, ADHD, depression and short-temperedness
  • Slow learner
  • Heart defect
  • Eye, hearing and respiratory problems


There is no exact treatment for Down syndrome. But, any parent can reduce the possibility of further complications by following these tips:

Regular Check-ups and Screening

A toddler with Down syndrome needs regular medical care. This is done to prevent possible health risks from happening. Your toddler will have to undergo dental and hearing exams every 6 months, annual thyroid testing and x-rays of the spinal column (between 3 to 5 years of age).

Early Childhood Intervention

Your pediatrician may recommend your toddler to undergo an early intervention program. This special program will stimulate your child at an early age by giving physical therapy (for improving movement) and speech therapy (for boosting language skills). Special education is also offered to help children with intellectual development delays.

Parent’s Love and Support

Having a toddler with Down syndrome may overwhelm you. But remember, no treatment or prevention will be effective if you do not give him the affection and support he deserves. Maintain eye contact when talking to your toddler. Teach your toddler how to dress, bathe and brush teeth on his own. Perform lots of physical activities together to increase muscle strength and motor skills. Enroll him in classes to help him socialize with children his age.

You play an important role in helping your toddler with Down syndrome reach his full potential. There might be hitches along the way, but knowing your child is slowly progressing is worth every effort.

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