Prognosis of Down’s syndrome can vary widely, depending on time of delay and other abnormal effects on physical and mental development of the baby. Whether the child has developed any other serious health conditions is also taken into consideration.
Effect on life span: A child with Down’s syndrome is at high risk of death during the first year of life. According to estimates, about 15% of children with Down’s syndrome die in the first year as a result of complication that arises from congenital heart disease. The prognosis improves dramatically after infancy (first year of life). Currently with advances in treatment, the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s syndrome is about 50 years.
Learning difficulties: Learning difficulty in Down’s syndrome can vary from mild to moderate. People with Down’s syndrome may have an IQ that can vary from 25 to 80, with an average score of 50. Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a way of measuring a person’s intelligence and the IQ score for the general population is 100.
Delayed development: Down’s syndrome affects both physical and mental development which can vary in severity form mild to severe. As the physical development is delayed, these children take longer to hold their head, turn over, sit, stand, crawl, and walk. Mental development is also delayed and hence, these children may have their important developmental milestones, such as talking, and learning to read, delayed; this includes delay in development of social skills needed for social interaction. However, most children with Down’s syndrome can acquire most, if not all, of the mental and social skills as other children (although delayed). These children may need speech therapy and counselling for behaviour problems.
Emotional issues: Teens with Down’s syndrome, like normal healthy teens, may have difficulties with handling strong emotions and feelings typical of their age. They reach puberty at about the same age as other healthy teens. Being aware of the possible social difficulties and vulnerabilities your child with Down syndrome may face can help you to seek intervention for it.
Struggles of growth can lead to mental health problems, especially depression. Patience, education and socialisation opportunities, early intervention programmes, and professional counselling can help prevent or manage such problems with behaviour. Most children with Down’s syndrome graduate from high school unless their mental ability is severely affected. Vocational training can help them learn how to work in many settings, such as stores, restaurants, and hotels.
As adults, most people with Down’s syndrome function well in mainstream society. They are able to go for regular jobs, have friends and participate in community activities. Men with Down’s syndrome are mostly sterile, but many women with Down syndrome are able to have children.
Associated medical conditions: Down’s syndrome increases the risk of developing other medical conditions such as congenital heart disease, hearing and vision problems, respiratory tract infections, hypothyroidism, celiac disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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