If your child who has Down syndrome is between the ages of 1 and 5 years, you will likely have ongoing questions and concerns. Your doctor can help answer your questions and guide you to appropriate resources to help you manage your feelings and plan for your child's long-term care needs.
Your doctor will likely address a variety of issues during your child's regularly scheduled checkups. In addition to talking about health problems, your doctor may talk with you about concerns like:
- Growth and development. Children with Down syndrome grow and develop in the same way as other children but at a slower rate.
- Education. Early-intervention programs exist for babies and young children up to age 3. Staff and caregivers in these programs monitor and encourage the development of children with special needs. If early intervention is not available in your area, you may be able to find people to help your child with physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Discuss preschool programs and other current or future school placement.
- Behaviour and relationships. Your doctor will want to know whether your child gets along with siblings and has generally acceptable and healthy behaviour. Consider whether there is a need for behavioural management, social skills, or recreational skills training. Discuss how your other children are adjusting to having a sibling with Down syndrome.
- Diet and exercise. Children with Down syndrome are prone to gaining weight. Your doctor can advise you on how to prevent your child from becoming overweight by providing a balanced diet and encouraging regular physical activity.
- Preventing common illnesses. Taking precautions to prevent colds and other respiratory infections is important for a child with Down syndrome. A narrow nose and air passages make children with Down syndrome prone to minor blockages from mucus during respiratory infections. A stuffy nose forces your child to breathe through the mouth. This dries out the mucous membranes and increases the chances of an upper respiratory infection. Your child's immunization history should also be discussed and reviewed.
If you have concerns about your chances of having another child with Down syndrome, talk with your doctor at this time. You may want to discuss how the condition may be diagnosed during pregnancy.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics