Down Syndrome Effects
Children with Down syndrome may be developmentally delayed. A child with Down syndrome is often slow to turn over, sit, stand, and respond. This may be related to the child's poor muscle tone. Development of speech and language abilities may take longer than expected and may not occur as fully as parents would like. However, children with Down syndrome do develop the communication skills they need.
Most people with Down syndrome have IQs that fall in the mild to moderate range of mental retardation. Some are so mildly affected that they live independently and are gainfully employed.
Premature aging is a characteristic of adults with Down syndrome. In addition, other Down syndrome effects in adults include dementia or memory loss and impaired judgment, similar to that occurring in patients with Alzheimer's disease. This condition often occurs when the person is younger than 40 years old. The risk for Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome is estimated to be three to five times greater than in the general population.
The doctor making the initial Down syndrome diagnosis has no way of knowing the intellectual or physical capabilities a child may have. Children and adults with Down syndrome have a wide range of abilities. A person with Down syndrome may be quite healthy, or he or she may present unusual and demanding medical and social problems at virtually every stage of life. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual, and not all people with the condition will develop all the medical disorders discussed.