Down syndrome is a genetic chromosome disorder that is caused when abnormal cell division results in extra genetic material from chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome develop distinct mental and physical features. Many suffer from learning delays and disabilities, as well as developmental problems that affect their bones and muscles. Those with this disorder are more prone to developing other medical conditions, such as heart problems. Keep reading to learn about ten symptoms of Down syndrome.

Poor Muscle Development

One of the most common issues caused by Down syndrome is the poor development of muscles and ligaments that support different parts of the body. This applies especially to the neck, where the supporting muscles appear weak and loose. As a result, Down syndrome patients are at risk of developing other conditions, such as spinal cord compression, a condition in which the bones in the neck exert pressure on the spinal cord. This can often lead to further weakness in the muscles as well as coordination problems. Physical therapy can help children improve posture and avoid complications.

muscle symptoms of down syndrome

Short Neck

At birth, there are a series of physical traits that can be indicative of Down syndrome. Such signs appear in around 80 percent of all cases. While there may be several tell-tale features evident, one of the most recognizable signs is a short neck. This will usually cause the infant to appear below-average in length, and short folds of skin are visible on the back of the neck. As the child grows, these folds gradually disappear.

symptoms of down syndrome

Heart Problems

Often, babies with Down syndrome will have heart-related problems or defects. In many cases, babies are born with heart problems, and up to half of all children with Downs syndrome will be affected by them. Among the most common heart-related problems is an atrioventricular septal defect. This is a condition in which there is a hole in the muscle that separates the multiple chambers in the heart. This leads to abnormal blood flow around the heart and can have detrimental consequences for overall health. If this condition is detected early enough, corrective surgery is usually possible.

down syndrome

Brushfield Spots

Another frequent symptom of Down syndrome is the appearance of brushfield spots in the iris of the eye. Brushfield spots occur in many children but are more likely to affect kids with Down syndrome. The cause has to do with the aggregation of connective tissue, and for unknown reasons, it affects people of European descent more than those of other ethnicities. Luckily, in most cases, brushfield spots aren't a cause for concern and will not require further medical intervention.

symptoms down syndrome

Wide Hands and Feet

Problems in the hands and feet are a common physical trait and are among the biggest indications of Down syndrome, appearing in a substantial number of people with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome usually have only one crease across their palms, while the rest of the population has two. Another distinctive sign of Down syndrome is smaller feet with a large space in between the big and second toes. It's important to note that these symptoms aren't detrimental to overall health but are merely indicators of Down syndrome.

signs of down syndrome

Poor Judgment

Because of the overall development of their brains, people with Down syndrome also exhibit mental or psychological traits. Even though their personality is often described as bright, joyful, or happy, they may also possess altered judgment capabilities. Moreover, people with Down syndrome could have mood swings. When faced with a difficult decision, they might have difficulty analyzing the best course of action, which could lead to ineffective results.

down syndrome signs

Learning Disabilities

People with Down syndrome often have learning delays or disabilities. They may experience delayed speech or slower motor development. Like any large group of individuals, there is a large degree of variety regarding learning, social, and cognitive abilities.

learning disabilities down syndrome

Short Attention Span

A short attention span is a common physiological trait that people with Down syndrome are likely to exhibit. As we mentioned earlier, all individuals with Down syndrome develop some degree of cognitive disability. One of the corollary consequences is a short attention span, which can make learning very difficult. People with DS may be unable to read a book for a long period, or they may struggle to solve complex problems. Familial support and encouragement, education and early intervention can minimize the detrimental effects of these disabilities.

attention span down syndrome

Impulsive Behavior

People with Down syndrome are likely to behave in a certain way. They may often seem frustrated or non-compliant because they are unable to communicate their thoughts fully. People with DS may struggle with routine and can find it challenging to integrate into a social environment. Because of this, it is important to focus on clear and consistent communication.

impulsive down syndrome

Other Problems

Apart from having a particular set of physical and mental symptoms, people with Down syndrome may also develop a whole range of other conditions. In fact, around one in every ten people with Down syndrome have gastrointestinal defects, which can often be fixed with surgical intervention. Also, many patients experience problems relating to the thyroid gland, which can have consequences for metabolism and weight. In extreme cases, people with Down syndrome can develop leukemia, a cancer of the blood.

down syndrome in children


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