Down Syndrome Effects
People with Down syndrome often have hypotonia, or poor muscle tone. Because they have a reduced muscle tone and a protruding tongue, feeding babies with Down syndrome usually takes longer. Mothers breastfeeding infants with Down syndrome should seek advice from an expert on the subject to make sure the baby is getting sufficient nutrition. Hypotonia may affect the muscles of the digestive system, in which case constipation may be a problem.
Babies with Down syndrome are also more susceptible than other children to transient myelodysplasia, or the defective development of the spinal cord.
Atlantoaxial instability, a malformation of the upper part of the spine located under the base of the skull, is present in some individuals with Down syndrome. This condition can cause spinal cord compression if it is not treated properly.
Down syndrome effects can also include joint stability problems in the hips or knees. In people with Down syndrome, these joints may slip out of place (dislocate) because they are loose.
Other common Down syndrome effects can include bunions and flat feet.
During the early years of life, children with Down syndrome are 10 to 15 times more likely than other children to develop leukemia, a potentially fatal disease. These children should receive an appropriate cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy.
Compared to the general population, individuals with Down syndrome have a twelvefold higher mortality rate from infectious diseases if these infections are left untreated and unmonitored. These infections are due to problems in their immune systems, usually the T cell and antibody-mediated immunity functions that fight off infections.
Children with Down syndrome are also more likely to develop:
- Chronic respiratory infections
- Middle ear infections (otitis media)
- Recurrent tonsillitis.
In addition, there is a 62-fold higher incidence of pneumonia in children with Down syndrome than in the general population.