Down Syndrome Home > Down Syndrome Babies

Parents of babies with Down syndrome can receive help from pediatricians, as well as from support groups. Feeding may take longer, due to hypotonia (poor muscle tone) and a protruding tongue. The doctor making the initial diagnosis cannot determine the intellectual or physical capabilities these babies may have -- there is a wide range of abilities.

Down Syndrome Babies: An Introduction

When parents are told that their newborn baby has Down syndrome, it is not unusual for them to have feelings of sadness and disappointment. Many parents report that at the time their baby is first diagnosed (and during the weeks that follow), they feel overwhelmed by feelings of loss and anxiety.
 
While caring for a child with Down syndrome frequently requires more time and energy, parents of these babies should seek the advice of a knowledgeable pediatrician and the many Down syndrome support groups and organizations available.
 

Medical Problems in Babies With Down Syndrome

Down syndrome babies often have hypotonia, or poor muscle tone. Because they have a reduced muscle tone and a protruding tongue, feeding 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.
 
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.
 
Seizure disorders, although less common than some of the other associated medical conditions, still affect between 5 percent and 13 percent of individuals with Down syndrome, a tenfold greater incidence than in the general population. There is an unusually high incidence of infantile spasms or seizures in children less than one year of age, some of which are precipitated by neonatal complications, infections, and cardiovascular disease. However, these seizures can be treated with medications.
 
Other medical problems associated with Down syndrome can occur during this stage of development.
 
(Click Down Syndrome Effects for more information about specific medical conditions associated with this condition.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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