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Health issues: What Should I Do First?

Children with Down syndrome are often at increased risk for Alaska Governor Baby

certain health problems. Congenital heart defects, increased

susceptibility to infection, respiratory problems and obstructed

digestive tracts occur with greater frequency among children with Down syndrome. Fortunately, advances in medicine have rendered most of these health problems treatable. As with all children, you must take an active role in ensuring the best health care for your child. Some steps we recommend you take soon after birth include:

1. Choose a Pediatrician who has experience with children

with Down syndrome or who is eager to learn. S.M.I.L.E. on Down Syndrome does not endorse any health care provider. S.M.I.L.E. can help you in contacting other parents, so you can ask questions about how they selected a pediatrician for their child. You may also ask

pediatricians for recommendations of colleagues who have

experience treating children with Down syndrome.

2. Obtain an echocardiogram. It is important that all children born with Down syndrome, even those who have no symptoms of heart disease, have an echocardiogram in the first 2 or 3

months of life. Symptoms may present themselves as heart failure, difficulty breathing or failure to thrive. The symptoms may not be apparent at first. Most hospitals have the capability to perform an echocardiogram. It is often most convenient to take care of this before leaving the hospital.

3. Ensure that the diagnosis of Down syndrome is confirmed via chromosomal KaryoTyping.

4. Have your pediatrician check for gastrointestinal blockage. Some signs of gastrointestinal blockage include

vomiting or absence of stools. Again, the symptoms may not present themselves for a period of time.

5. If your child has any feeding difficulties, consult a feeding specialist. Ask for a consult with a feeding

specialist. Most children with Down syndrome have success with breastfeeding.

6. Obtain a hearing test before leaving the hospital. Some children with Down syndrome experience hearing loss.

With new testing procedures, this can be detected easily in newborns.

For Down syndrome growth charts and healthcare guidelines, visit the Physicians Resources page. Please note: This nonexclusive list is not meant to replace the care and advice of a qualified physician.