Part I: Clinical Practice Guidelines With Down Syndrome From Birth to 12 Years

Susan N. Van Cleve, MSN, RN, CPNP; William I. Cohen, MD


J Pediatr Health Care. 2006;20(1):47-54. 

In This Article

Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Down Syndrome

Approximately 11% of Americans are choosing to supplement their diets and to use alternative health services for treatment of health conditions (Cooley, 2002). Parents of children with DS often are interested in more choices than traditional medicine offers. Many parents will not disclose their use of complementary or alternative medicine unless specifically asked. Therefore, it is important that the clinician explore the use of these treatments with families. Some of the more common therapies used by families who have a child with DS include nutritional supplements, antioxidants, sicca cell therapy, facial plastic surgery, and cognitive enhancement products (Cooley, 2002). Minimal research has been done to establish the scientific basis of these interventions. Nevertheless, the lack of scientific evidence usually is not a deterrent to the family. Clinicians can be most helpful in ensuring that the treatment is safe, even if it has not been proven to be effective. Clinicians should approach the topic of complementary and alternative treatments from a respectful perspective and discuss with the parents the risk and benefits, the cost in time and effort, the plausibility of the therapy's claims, and how parents might evaluate the effectiveness of the product. The context of this discussion with families should be open and nonjudgmental as they explore other options for their child.


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