What is included in the ongoing care of patients with Down syndrome?

Updated: Apr 30, 2018
  • Author: Gratias Tom Mundakel, MBBS, DCH; Chief Editor: Maria Descartes, MD  more...
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There are no medical treatments for intellectual disability associated with Down syndrome, but improved medical care has greatly enhanced quality of life and increased life expectancy. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines for the care of children with Down syndrome. [2]  Elements of medical care include the following:

  • Genetic counseling

  • Standard immunizations and well-child care

  • Management of specific manifestations of Down syndrome and associated conditions (eg, endocrine, infectious, cardiac, respiratory, neurologic, psychiatric, dermatologic, and dental disorders)

  • Early intervention programs (may improve the social quotient)

Special considerations in adolescents are as follows:

  • Ongoing monitoring measures, including annual audiologic evaluation and annual ophthalmologic evaluation

  • Ongoing management of manifestations of the syndrome and associated conditions

  • Discussion of issues related to the transition to adulthood

  • Vocational training

Appropriate surgical management of associated conditions should be provided, as follows:

  • Timely surgical treatment of cardiac anomalies is crucial for optimal survival

  • Prompt surgical repair is necessary for gastrointestinal (GI) anomalies, most commonly, duodenal atresia and Hirschsprung disease

  • Surgical intervention may be necessary to stabilize the upper segment of the cervical spine if neurologic deficits are clinically significant

  • Congenital cataracts must be extracted soon after birth and subsequent correction with glasses or contact lenses provided

  • Careful anesthetic airway management is needed because of the associated risk of cervical spine instability

  • Adenotonsillectomy may be performed to manage obstructive sleep apnea

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.

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