Which medications are used in the treatment of Down syndrome?

Updated: Apr 30, 2018
  • Author: Gratias Tom Mundakel, MBBS, DCH; Chief Editor: Maria Descartes, MD  more...
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The standard immunizations and well-child care should be provided. In addition, specific manifestations of the syndrome and associated conditions must be addressed, as follows:

  • Give thyroid hormone for hypothyroidism to prevent intellectual deterioration and to improve the individual’s overall function, academic achievement, and vocational abilities

  • Give digitalis and diuretics as necessary for cardiac management

  • Provide prompt treatment of respiratory tract infections and otitis media

  • Consider pneumococcal and influenza vaccination for children with chronic cardiac and respiratory disease; consider prophylactic palivizumab, since infants with Down syndrome are at high risk for hospitalization with respiratory syncytial virus [102]  

  • Administer anticonvulsants for tonic-clonic seizures or for infantile spasms (treat with steroids)

  • Provide pharmacologic agents, psychotherapy, or behavioral therapy for psychiatric disorders

  • Treat skin disorders with weight reduction, proper hygiene, frequent baths, application of antibiotic ointment, or systemic antibiotic therapy

  • Prevent dental caries and periodontal disease through appropriate dental hygiene, fluoride treatments, good dietary habits, and restorative care

There are specific guidelines on when prophylaxis for subacute bacterial endocarditis is necessary and, unless there is a valve replacement or other clear reason, children with trisomy 21 are not routinely recommended to receive it.

Early intervention programs are promising. Programs for infants aged 0-3 years are designed to monitor and enrich their development by focusing on feeding, as well as gross and fine motor, language, personal, and social development. Early intervention techniques may improve the patient’s social quotient. Overall, positive developmental changes are observed in children with Down syndrome, particularly in terms of their independence, community functioning, and quality of life.

A literature review by Sugimoto et al indicated that neuromuscular training can improve strength in children and young adults with Down syndrome. The study found that such training can have a moderate to large impact on general strength, as well as a small to moderate effect on maximal strength. Only a small impact on functional mobility tasks was reported. [103]

Megadoses of vitamins and minerals supplemented with zinc or selenium have not been found beneficial in a number of well-controlled scientific studies.

Children with Down syndrome and leukemia are more sensitive to some chemotherapeutic agents (eg, methotrexate) than other children. Thus, they require careful monitoring for toxicity.

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