What are the possible respiratory complications of Down syndrome?

Updated: Apr 30, 2018
  • Author: Gratias Tom Mundakel, MBBS, DCH; Chief Editor: Maria Descartes, MD  more...
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Respiratory problems are among the most common reasons for hospital admissions and mortality in children and adults with Down syndrome. [58] Hypotonia, developmental delay, obstructive sleep apnea, craniofacial anomalies, immune deficiency, and cardiac problems, as well as gastroesophageal reflux, all contribute to the increased risk of developing respiratory complications, such as lung infection, aspirations, and cor pulmonale. [54, 59]

A French study, by Alimi et al, indicated that Down syndrome is a risk factor for pulmonary hemosiderosis and that the condition appears to be more severe in the presence of Down syndrome. Of 34 patients under age 20 years with pulmonary hemosiderosis, nine (26.5%) presented with Down syndrome. Pulmonary hemosiderosis in patients with Down syndrome was more likely to have earlier onset and to be associated with greater dyspnea at diagnosis, a higher incidence of secondary pulmonary hypertension, and a greater risk of fatal evolution. [60]

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