Down Syndrome in Children: Care Instructions

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Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by having an extra chromosome. It affects childhood growth and development. Children who have this condition may share similar features and have certain health issues. As they grow, they often learn to talk later than other children. And they may have some intellectual disability.

When you find out that your child has Down syndrome, you might have a wide range of feelings. You might also have a lot of questions. Your doctor can help answer your questions and connect you with resources to help you learn more.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Encourage your young child as they learn to turn over, sit, stand, walk, talk, and master other skills.
  • Help your child learn to talk. Use simple communication. This includes looking at your child while speaking or showing and naming objects.
  • To help your child learn to walk:
    • Move your child's arms and legs in swimming motions.
    • Bounce your child on your lap while you hold them in a standing position.
    • Help your child roll over so that they can become stronger and more mobile.
    • Support your child in a sitting position, but let them lean forward for balance.
  • Encourage your child's use and control of the large muscles of the legs, trunk, and arms and the smaller muscles of the hands:
    • Place toys just out of your child's reach. Encourage your child to get them.
    • Play pat-a-cake with your child.
    • Place your child's legs so that they are touching when you carry or hold your child.
    • Let your child slap their hands and bang pots on the table at times.
  • Enroll your young child (infant through age 3) in an early-intervention program. Trained staff will help your child get stronger and learn new skills.
  • Know that it is okay for your child to be challenged and to sometimes fail.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.