Down Syndrome Home > Down Syndrome Prognosis
Several factors affect a person's Down syndrome prognosis, including other medical conditions that can occur because of this developmental disability. Some of these medical conditions include congenital heart disease, thyroid problems, leukemia, and hearing problems. The doctor who is most familiar with a patient's situation is in the best position to discuss that person's Down syndrome prognosis.
The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased substantially. In 1929, the average life span of a person with Down syndrome was nine years. Today, it is common for a person with Down syndrome to live to age 50 and beyond.
In addition to living longer, adults with Down syndrome are now living fuller, richer lives than ever before as family members and contributors to their communities. Many people with Down syndrome form meaningful relationships and eventually marry.
However, because it is a problem with the chromosomes, there are no cures for Down syndrome.
A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease. Several factors affect the Down syndrome prognosis, including other medical conditions that can occur because of the disorder.
Though their average Down syndrome life expectancy has risen to the mid-50s, people with Down syndrome are still at risk for medical conditions that affect nearly every system in the body. Some of these medical conditions include:
- Congenital heart disease
- Thyroid problems
- Leukemia and other cancers
- Immune system problems
- Hearing problems
- Eye problems
- Seizure disorders
- Bone, muscle, nerve, or joint problems
- Mental retardation
- Alzheimer's disease.
(Click Down Syndrome Effects for more information on the effects of Down syndrome.)
Because of these medical conditions and their complications, a person with Down syndrome is at increased risk of premature death. Regular checkups are very important. Checkups help ensure that any changes in health are noted and treated if necessary.
The doctor may also schedule certain screening tests to look for problems before symptoms occur. This is important, given the increased risk of infections and cancer in people with Down syndrome.