Down Syndrome Home > Down Syndrome Effects
In some cases, certain Down syndrome effects, such as hypotonia, may be present at birth; others may not become evident until adulthood. The effects of this condition vary widely among individuals, and may be experienced in nearly every system in the body. Common Down syndrome effects can include thyroid problems, hearing problems, congenital heart disease, eye problems, and joint and muscle problems.
Though their average life expectancy has risen to the mid-50s, people with Down syndrome are still at risk for Down syndrome effects in nearly every system in the body.
Some common Down syndrome effects may be present at birth; others may not become evident until adulthood. In individual cases, the effects of Down syndrome also vary widely. Some people with Down syndrome may experience many of its effects; others only a few.
Common Down syndrome effects can include:
- Thyroid problems
- Hearing problems
- Congenital heart disease
- Eye problems
- Seizure disorders
- Bone, muscle, nerve, or joint problems
- Leukemia and other cancers
- Immune system problems
- Developmental delay
- Mental retardation
- Alzheimer's disease.
Congenital hypothyroidism, characterized by a reduced basal metabolism, an enlargement of the thyroid gland, and disturbances in the autonomic nervous system, occurs slightly more frequently in babies with Down syndrome. A routine blood test for hypothyroidism that is performed on newborns will detect this condition.
Recent studies indicate that 66 percent to 89 percent of children with Down syndrome have a hearing loss of greater than 15 to 20 decibels in at least one ear, due to the fact that the external ear and the bones of the middle and inner ear may develop differently in children with the syndrome. Many hearing problems can be corrected. But, because of the high prevalence of hearing loss in children with Down syndrome, an objective measure should be taken to establish hearing status. Hearing problems, like eye problems, may be present early in life.