Down Syndrome in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Finding out that your child has Down syndrome can leave you feeling shocked, saddened, and confused. At the same time, you may be filled with love and hope. It is normal to have a wide range of emotions.

Down syndrome is caused by an abnormal dividing of cells at the start of a pregnancy. Many children with Down syndrome have a flat face with small ears and mouth. They may have weak muscles that get stronger by late childhood. They often have other health problems and learn more slowly. Down syndrome is permanent, but most people who have it are able to live healthy, happy lives. You and your doctor will make a treatment plan based on your child's needs.

Your doctor can refer you to support services such as Down syndrome support groups. These groups help you learn what to expect and how to care for your baby with Down syndrome. Talking with other parents who have children with Down syndrome will help you with the challenges and the joys ahead.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

For yourself

  • Learn about Down syndrome. The more you learn, the better you can help your child.
  • Take time to exercise, buy and cook healthy foods, rest, visit with friends, and do other things you enjoy.
  • Learn ways to handle the range of emotions, fears, and concerns that go along with raising a child with special needs.
  • Learn relaxation techniques. Know when to use them.
  • Think about joining a support group with other families of children with Down syndrome. These groups can be a good source of information and tips for what to do. Your doctor can tell you how to find a support group.

For your child

  • Be patient and upbeat with your young child as he or she learns to turn over, sit, stand, walk, talk, and master other skills.
  • To help your child learn to walk:
    • Move your baby's arms and legs in swimming motions.
    • Bounce your baby on your lap while you hold him or her in a standing position.
    • Help your baby roll over so that he or she can become stronger and more mobile.
    • Support your baby in a sitting position, but let him or her lean forward for balance.
  • Encourage your child's use and control of the large muscles of the legs, trunk, and arms and the smaller muscles of the hands:
    • Place toys just out of your child's reach. Encourage him or her to get them.
    • Play pat-a-cake with your baby.
    • Place your baby's legs so that they are touching when you carry or hold him or her.
    • Let your child bang pots and slap his or her hands on the table at times.
  • Enroll your young child (infant through age 3) in an early-intervention program. Trained staff will help your child get stronger and learn new skills.
  • Know that it is okay for your child to be challenged and to sometimes fail.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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