A somewhat common genetic defect, a mother's risk of having a child with Downs syndrome increases with age. While many children with Downs syndrome are able to grow up and lead productive lives, most will require some level of extra care. Prenatal screening can help determine whether or not your baby is at risk of developing Downs syndrome.
What is Down Syndrome?
Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. The risk of Down syndrome goes up with maternal age. At age 20, the odds of a baby with Downs syndrome are 1 in 1,500. At age 35, they go up to 1 in 350. By age 43, the odds are 1 in 50. If you have already had a baby with Downs syndrome, you will be much more likely to have another one. Also, if a relative of yours has had one, you may wish to be tested to see if you carry a chromosomal abnormality. If this is the case, your chances of having a baby with Downs syndrome are much higher.
People with Downs syndrome often have anywhere from mild to moderate mental development difficulties (low IQ). It isn't possible to tell the intelligence level of a child with Down syndrome at birth; however, as long as the baby is cared for and kept in good physical health, the child will be able to learn, albeit at an indeterminate slower pace. Many children with Downs syndrome will be able to develop into independent adults who work and live on their own.
There are usually a few physical growth problems; short limbs, a wrinkle below the eyes and a smaller mouth.
There are also a variety of health problems that babies with Down syndrome can have. The possibility of these should be investigated by a doctor.
A little less than half of babis with Down syndrome suffer from heart defects. An ultrasound of your baby's heart can be used to see if your baby will have a defect. After birth, a baby with Down syndrome MUST be inspected by a doctor to see if a heart defect is present. If a heart defect is present, surgery can be done to fix this, however medication to deal with the heart defect may still be necessary.