Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Down Syndrome: Caring
for the Baby
How will I take
care of my baby with Down syndrome?
Just like any other newborn, your baby will need
to be fed, dressed, diapered, cuddled, held, talked to, played with and loved.
However, your baby will probably have some health problems that will require
some extra care.
What are the
health problems that might affect my baby?
Most babies with Down syndrome don't have good
muscle tone. This makes it harder for them to learn to roll over, to sit up and
to walk. Physical therapy can help with these problems.
There's a chance that your baby may have some
kind of heart defect--a little less than half of these babies have a heart
problem. An ultrasound exam of your baby's heart will show if there's a problem.
Surgery can fix the heart problems of Down syndrome.
Some babies with Down syndrome have problems
swallowing, or they may have blockages in their stomach or intestines (bowels).
Surgery can fix these problems. Once they are fixed, they usually cause no
Some babies have eye problems, like cataracts
(cloudy lenses) or crossed eyes. Surgery can help these problems, too.
Children with Down syndrome may have colds, ear
infections and sinus infections more often than other children. They are more
likely to have thyroid problems, hearing loss, seizures, and bone and joint
problems. It's also common for these children to be late in
Will my child
have learning problems?
Intelligence ranges from low normal to very
retarded (slow to learn) in people with Down syndrome. If you can keep your
child physically healthy, he or she will be better able to learn. At birth, it
isn't possible to tell yet how smart a baby with Down syndrome will be. Many
adults with Down syndrome have jobs and live independently.
special care will my baby need?
You may need to give your baby medicine for a
heart defect or some other medical problem. Your doctor will probably want to
check your baby more often to be sure that he or she is growing well and isn't
developing problems from birth defects.
Your baby may need to have physical therapy
every week to help with building up muscle tone and coordination. Later on,
speech therapy and occupational therapy (to help with hand coordination) may be
helpful for your child.
Where can I find out more about Down
Here are some books about babies with Down
Libby Kumin. Communication skills in children
with Down syndrome: a guide for parents. Rockville, Md.: Woodbine House,
Siegfried M. Pueschel. A parent's guide to Down
syndrome: toward a brighter future. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes,
Kay Stray-Gundersen, editor. Babies with Down
syndrome: a new parents' guide. 2d ed. Bethesda, Md.: Woodbine House,
These locations on the World Wide Web may
Personal Empowerment Network chatroom (keyword:
Private chatroom (keyword: DS
Disabilities forum, general disabilities
discussion, Down Syndrome
These organizations offer helpful
La Leche League International (for
breast-feeding information and support):
Can I breast feed
Breast feeding is good for babies with Down
syndrome. Babies with Down syndrome can breast feed. Your baby may be a little
slow in learning how to breast feed.
You may find it helpful to talk with your doctor
or a nurse, or a therapist with special training when your baby is learning to
breast feed. Other mothers who have breast-fed their babies with Down syndrome
can also give you helpful advice. Your doctor can help you find other mothers to