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Health and Children with Down syndrome

Posted Jun 29 2009 6:06pm
When Bridget was little, we heard over and over how children with Down syndrome are more likely than typical children to have hearing and vision difficulties, thyroid dysfunction and an increased risk of developing leukemia(in addition to the heart defects and complications in roughly half of kids with Ds).

We heard that children with Down syndrome
also more likely to suffer from chronic ear, chest and sinus infections.In general, children with Ds tend to have more health complications and generally weakened immune systems compared to typical children. At least that's what we read and heard.

We were always on the look out for illness with Bridget. I worried that it would take her longer to recover when she did get sick.

We spent Bridget's first month in the hospital, so the whole family became practiced in taking extra precautions to keep her well. (The germs that come with four school-age siblings were a major concern initially.)

But
our experience with Bridget has been much different than what we prepared for in her first few years. I can count on one hand the number of times she has been sick. I'm always extra concerned about her when she starts to come down with something, but she has proven me wrong time and time again. She holds her own during illness and bounces right back.

For anyone who is curious,
Bridget has received her regular immunizations (on a slightly modified schedule) and within her first yearalso receivedshots ofSynagis, an antibody given to protect premature infants (and other babies at elevated risk) from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). She is not on medicines, vitamins or supplements of any kind. She does eat a variety of healthy foods (salmon, avocado, berries, oatmeal, squash, peas, whole grains, lean meats, yogurt, etc.), has very few sweets and limited dairy (other than yogurt). She drinks soy milk.

I realize that Bridget is only (almost) three, and we will continue to screen for the health concerns that are more common in people with Ds. I need to keep reminding myself, though, that Bridget is an individual, and will have her own unique path to travel. While I have no idea whether anything we have done (or not done) has made a difference, I do know that her health--along with her abilities and achievements--can't be predicted.

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