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Women's Health

Mercy Women's Care at St. Anne
3404 W. Sylvania Avenue
Toledo, OH 43623

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Navarre Medical Plaza
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Suite 101
Oregon, OH 43616

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Toledo, OH 43608

When Your Baby has Down Syndrome

separator Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder. Most of the time, each egg and sperm cell contain 23 chromosomes, creating 23 pairs when the egg and sperm join together. But sometimes, babies who have this syndrome are born with three copies of chromosome 21. Most babies are born with only two copies.

One out of every 800 to 1,000 live births is a child who has Down syndrome. There are about 350,000 people with the syndrome in the United States today.

About 80 percent of children with Down syndrome have parents who are younger than 35 years old. But the chances that a woman will have a Down syndrome baby do increase as she gets older.

What to expect if your baby has Down’s syndrome
The main thing you should know about Down’s syndrome is that there’s no way to predict exactly how it will affect your child. Some of the common health problems babies with Down syndrome may have include:

  • Trouble breastfeeding
  • Problems with ears, nose or throat
  • Low muscle tone
  • Dental problems
  • Vision problems
  • Heart defect

In addition, your Down syndrome baby will have some degree of mental retardation, ranging from mild to severe.

Your Down syndrome baby: a new member of the household like all new babies
A new Down syndrome baby needs the same things any new baby needs—love and affection, security, food, cleanliness and protection. Later on, your baby will enjoy playing and learning about the world.

Some people may feel uncomfortable about your baby’s condition in the beginning, just because people do sometimes feel that way about situations they don’t understand. The more comfortable you are with your baby, the more comfortable others are likely to be.

What the future can hold
Things are better now for people with Down syndrome than they were several generations ago. Children with Down syndrome usually go to school in regular academic classrooms with all the other kids. As people with Down syndrome get older, they often have jobs and can live in group homes or similar types of living situations, if they like.

People with Down syndrome have meaningful friendships and other relationships. Some even get married. But women with Down syndrome have a 50 percent chance that their child will have Down syndrome as well. It’s believed that men with Down syndrome are fertile.

You’ll need support from others

As a parent, there are some things you can do that will help you take care of your child—and yourself—as the years go by, such as:

  • Join a support group of other parents who have a baby with Down syndrome. For parent support groups in your area, call 1-800-221-4602 or visit the National Down Syndrome Society.
  • Stay in frequent communication with your baby’s doctor
  • When your doctor recommends that you see certain medical specialists, it’s a good idea to take that advice
  • Enroll your baby in recommended early intervention programs

The March of Dimes; National Down Syndrome Society.
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