Although here is not there is no cure of Down Syndrome,
there are lots of treatment options which can help reduce the negative effects
of many of the health problems associated with the condition 1. There are
many specialised medical professionals who are available the help, including
community nurses who specialise in learning difficulties and can provide
support and help those with learning difficulties to overcome any barriers they
may face 2. Dieticians also play a key role in providing information on how
to prevent excess weight gain and constipation. The child should also be
assigned a paediatrician who will monitor their growth and development 1.


Brachycephaly is a common condition among babies with Down Syndrome. The
condition causes the back of the head to become flattened and the forehead to
bulge which can lead to scoliosis and seizures if left untreated 5 6. To
try to fix the shape of the head, a helmet can be worn which applies pressure
to parts of the skull that are bulging encouraging growth in the flatter areas
of the head. The helmet should be worn as often as possible when the baby
reaches the age of 5 months. Specialised mattresses are also available which
distribute the weight of the baby’s head more evenly, encouraging even growth


People with Down Syndrome tend to have a high narrow palate
9, develop a fissured tongue (characterised by grooves of varied depth along
the tongue 7), as well as ulcers and oral infections. This results in
specialized dental care being required to develop a plan to ensure adequate oral
care, and staff to provide information to the patient at an appropriate level
of communication 8.

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It is very important that children with Down Syndrome have
regular eye examinations as those with the condition are much or likely have
issues with their vision. If there is any concern about the child’s vision,
they should be referred to an eye clinic and arrange an appointment with an
Orthoptist who is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of problems concerning
the eye 11. The most effective treatment for the majority of vision problems
is the prescription of glasses, however for more serious problems, such as
cataracts, surgery may be the most effective way to alleviate symptoms 12.
Children with Down Syndrome often have dry skin, which can cause Blepharitis, a
condition which results in the skin around the eyelashes becoming flaky and
inflamed. This can be treated through a course of antibiotic drops and can be
soothed using a warm compress 10.

Children with Down Syndrome often require speech and language therapy to
develop the skills required for verbal communication, and to help strengthen
their tongue, lips and facial muscles allowing them to eat, drink, and swallow
13. It is also important for the development of the child’s attention and
listening skills, social interaction and speech sound skills 25. Speech and
language pathology services begin in the first few months of the child’s life
and can help with the development of skills needed for feeding. As the child
grows older, the therapy begins to incorporate the development receptive and
expressive language skills 14.

Another common problem among children with Down Syndrome is
problems with sleep, which have many behavioural causes, including reluctance
to go to bed and the inability to stay asleep. This can have a negative effect
on the child’s daytime behaviour. Often the best course of treatment is to
establish a clear routine, keeping the same bedtime at weekends and throughout
the week, and preforming the same activities in the same order every night
15. A common physical cause of sleep problems is sleep apnoea. This can be
easily treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) which can be
achieved through wearing a mask over the nose to delivers air to the throat
keeping it open 21.




Hypertonia is a common problem associated with people with
Down Syndrome. It can be treated through a variety of activities, including physical
therapy, and the best results are observed with early intervention. Therapy can
help build the child’s muscle tone and improve their coordination as well as help
with protection from problems related to excess joint flexibility. A healthy
lifestyle can also help to protect against the negative effects of hypertonia
as a healthy diet can avoid excess weight gain in conjunction with physical
activity 20. Massage has also been proven to have positive effects for
treating hypertonia 22.


Many children with Down Syndrome suffer from atlantoaxial instability due to poor muscle tone. This
condition is characterised by excess movement between vertebrae in the upper
spine and can cause neural symptoms if the spinal cord becomes involved 17.
Treatments for this condition include physical therapy, where strengthening
exercises can be used to help reduce pressure on the effected vertebrae 19. In
extreme cases, the child may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon who can
perform a Locksley occipital–cervical fusion which will stabilize the upper part
of the spinal column. Although this procedure has associated risks, it has been
shown to be effective in treating the problem 16 18.



Heart defects are
relatively common in children with Down syndrome, the most common being atrioventricular
septal defects, ventricular septal defects, persistent ductus arteriosus, and
tetralogy of fallot. The best treatment for these defects is often surgery
which must be performed before the age of 6 months to avoid irreparable lung
damage. Although the required surgery has a higher risk because of the
complexity of the defect, a successfully surgery often leaves minimal defects
and the child should continue to develop at the same rate as children with Down
Syndrome who are not born with the defect 23.


People with Downs Syndrome are more prone to respiratory infections
and often the most effective way to minimise the risk of infection is through
vaccination for viruses, such as influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus
(RSV), and maintaining good general health 26. However if an infection does
develop, the best treatment option is often a course of antibiotics 27.








1 Ages and Stages of Down’s Syndrome, 2012. Down’s
Syndrome Scotland. Available from:
Accessed 25 November 2017

2 Hunt, C., Wakefield, S., Hunt G. 2001. Community Nurse
Learning Disabilities: A Case Study of the Use of an Evidence-Based Screening
Tool to Identify and Meet the Health Needs of People with Learning
Disabilities. Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

3 Burton L. Shapiro, D.D.S.The Palate and Down’s Syndrome.
Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

 4 Helmets,
headbands and mattresses, 2016. NHS Choices. Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

5 What is Brachycephaly and how is it Treated? 2016.
Technology in Motion. Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

6 How will this affect my child? 2017. Baby Flat Head
Syndrome. Available from:
Accessed 23 November 2017

7 Kelsch, A. D. Fissured Tongue, 2016. Medscape. Available
Accessed 19 November 2017

8 Dental Care for the Patient with Down Syndrome. Down
Syndrome Education Online. Available from:
Accessed 20 November 2017

9 Burton L. Shapiro, D.D.S.The Palate and Down’s Syndrome.
Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

10 Blepharitis Treatment, 2016. NHS Choices. Available
Accessed 19 November 2017

11 Eye Care in Children with Down’s Syndrome, 2017. NHS
Foundation Trust. Available from:
Accessed 19 November 2017

12 Down Syndrome, 2017. American Association for
Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Available from:
Accessed 19 November 2017

13 What is speech and language therapy? Royal College of
Speech and Language Therapists. Available from:
Accessed 20 November 2017

14 Kumin, L. Speech & Language Therapy for Infants,
Toddlers & Young Children. Speech & Language Therapy. Available from:  Accessed 25 November 2017

15 Wood, M., Sacks, B. Overcoming sleep problems for
children with Down syndrome, 2004. Down Syndrome News and Update. Available
Accessed 24 November 2017

16 Dennis, J. Atlanto-axial Instability Among People with
Down’s Syndrome, 2001. Down’s Syndrome Association Medical Series. Available
Accessed 23 November 2017

17 Leas, D.P. Atlantoaxial Instability, 2017. Medscape.
Available from:
Accessed 18 November 2017

18 Rahimi, S.Y., Stevens, A. Treatment of atlantoaxial
instability in paediatric patients, 2003. Journal of Neurosurgery. Available from:
Accessed 19 November 2017

19 Olson, K.A., Joder, D. Diagnosis and treatment of
Cervical Spine Clinical Instability, 2001. Journal of Orthopaedic Sports
Physical Therapy. Available from:
Accessed 23 November 2017

20 Down Syndrome: Musculoskeletal Effects, 2014. American
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.–conditions/down-syndrome-musculoskeletal-effects
Accessed 22 November 2017






26 file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Respiratory%20Infections%20(1).pdf


Respiratory Tract Infections in Children with Down’s Syndrome Leaflet for Parents




3 Dennis, J. Atlanto-axial Instability Among People with
Down’s Syndrome, 2001. Down’s Syndrome Association Medical Series. Available
Accessed 23 November 2017


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