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Down Syndrome

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Currently there is no way to prevent or cure Down syndrome. Prenatal screening and diagnosis is performed to detect the condition in the fetus and to allow the pregnant woman and her family to make informed choices. Early diagnosis allows the family and health practitioner to work together to monitor the baby and to prepare for complications that may require attention shortly after birth. Medical treatments may include surgical interventions, such as repairing cardiac defects and removing gastrointestinal obstructions, and starting medications for conditions such as thyroid disease.

In individuals with Down syndrome, careful monitoring, prompt attention to acute and chronic conditions that arise, and "early intervention" to maximize the potential of the individual are important. The symptoms, signs, complications, and abilities of people with Down syndrome will vary widely. It is not possible to determine early in a child's life what he or she will be able to learn, do, and accomplish. Those affected should be given encouragement and stimulation from an early age, given a healthy diet, and engage in regular physical activities to maintain muscle strength. Families should work closely with their health practitioners and other specialists to develop life, monitoring, and treatment plans that meet the unique needs of those affected.

There are national, state, and local "early intervention" programs and resources that can help children with Down syndrome develop their physical, communication, and cognitive skills. Many children will be able to join regular classes in schools, participate in sports, and as adults hold jobs and live semi-independent lives. Most will be able to live relatively normal and healthy lives. The average lifespan of those with Down syndrome has increased in recent years with most living to their mid 50's and many into their 60's and 70's.

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