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Things To Expect When Caring For Your Baby With Down Syndrome

    Things To Expect When Caring For Your Baby With Down Syndrome

    Down syndrome, a genetic condition where the child has an extra chromosome (or part of it) affects the child’s development. And while parents can determine if their baby has this before birth, they might not be able to get the whole picture of Down Syndrome baby care until their child is born. Here’s what you can expect in caring for a baby with this condition.

    1. Your baby may need to stay in the hospital longer

    The first thing you need to prepare yourself for is your baby’s need for longer hospital care.

    You see, Down syndrome baby care typically requires further testing to determine if the newborn is experiencing common health problems associated with the genetic condition.

    Before leaving the hospital, the doctors may test your baby for:

    • Hypothyroidism, which occurs in about 10% of children with Down Syndrome. This may lead to hearing problems, delayed growth, and heart issues.
    • Blood problems, like thrombocytopenia (low platelets), polycythemia (increased red blood cells) or myeloproliferative disorder (increase in abnormal white blood cells)
    • Heart defects. About 50% of newborns with this genetic condition also develop a heart defect.

    2. You need to be extra careful in handling them

    Another significant part of Down Syndrome baby care is being extra careful in handling them.

    It’s common for a newborn with Down Syndrome to have poor muscle tone. As such, they tend to be floppy, meaning they can slip out of your hold easily. You also need to handle their head and neck carefully as doctors say their first two vertebrae may be unstable.

    3. They might need medicine right away

    Depending on the results of the tests, your baby may need medicines right away. It may not seem fitting considering they’re too young, but they need the medications to control the effects of their comorbidities.

    On top of medicines, the doctor may also discuss with you the possibility of physical therapy to address their poor muscle tone.

    4. Breast milk is still the best milk for them

    Breast milk is the best milk for all newborn babies. If you’re worried that you cannot breastfeed your baby due to their poor muscle tone, rest assured that you can.

    However, it may take a while for them to learn how to breastfeed. Hence, it’s best to consult your doctor about it. Consulting mothers who have experience breastfeeding their baby with Down Syndrome will also be a huge help.

    5. They need frequent visits to their doctors

    Finally, please remember that your baby needs frequent medical appointments throughout their life.

    You need to work closely with their doctors to detect problems so that you can intervene as soon as possible.

    Down Syndrome Baby Care: Their Developmental Milestones

    One of the most common worries when it comes to Down Syndrome baby care is how the child is bound to hit their developmental milestones. When will they talk? How soon can they walk?

    The good news is that you can do many things to help your baby develop.

    To encourage them to talk, use simple communication. Don’t forget to look at them while you speak. Also, use gestures and point at the objects you’re introducing to them.

    Walking may be difficult if they have weak muscles. Start with helping them roll over, so they can be stronger and more agile. You can also bounce them while they are standing on your lap. Doctors also recommend moving their hands and feet in a swimming motion.

    Babies with Down Syndrome may be a little delayed when it comes to achieving their developmental milestones. But with your support and medical intervention, they will be able to do it, too.

    Key Takeaways

    Down syndrome baby care involves being extra careful in handling the newborn, frequent visits to the doctors, longer hospital stay, medicines, and of course, breastfeeding.

    Learn more about Pregnancy Problems here.

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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Facts about Down Syndrome, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/downsyndrome.html, Accessed July 20, 2022

    Down Syndrome in Children: Care Instructions, https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/AfterCareInformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=uh4668&, Accessed July 20, 2022

    Down Syndrome, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/down-syndrome.html, Accessed July 20, 2022

    Caring for a Child with Down Syndrome, , https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/1999/0115/p395.html, Accessed July 20, 2022

    6 things to expect with Down syndrome babies, https://utswmed.org/medblog/down-syndrome-babies/, Accessed July 20, 2022

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jul 22
    Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza
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