Down Syndrome, not a disease but genetic defect

Shastry V.Mallady
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However, it does not mean child is doomed or downed in any way

TIPS: J. Sundarapandian, a senior paediatrician. — Photo: G. Moorthy.
TIPS: J. Sundarapandian, a senior paediatrician. — Photo: G. Moorthy.

A child may be affected by the Down Syndrome. But it does not mean that the child is doomed or downed in any way.

Doctors say that it is all in the parents' hands of how to handle, groom and shape up a Down's child in to an independent person as he or she grows.

An awareness meeting conducted in Madurai on April 24 by the JSP Child's Trust gave some insights on various aspects of diagnosis, care and treatment of children with Down Syndrome.

“It is not a disease but a genetic defect from birth. What is of utmost importance is early diagnosis and confirmation by a paediatrician or neurologist. Symptoms will be known when a child is three months and parents can immediately take steps,” says J. Sundarapandian, a senior paediatrician in Madurai.

The awareness meeting was held at the Padma Speciality Care Hospital (near Tallakulam CEO office/BSNL) where parents along with their children turned up to listen to the experts on this genetic disorder.

Start of therapy must begin early after the paediatrician's confirmation.

The body immuno deficiency is more among the Down's children and hence a balanced diet is very essential with a good mix of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and fat.

At the same time, the child should not become obese. Parents can put an eye on the child's facial features.

“Parents must know about handling the children at different stages from infant to adolescent and thereafter. Down's children can be near normal if parents fine tune them,” Dr. Sundarapandian advises.

Medical treatment will have to be supported by physiotherapy, speech therapy and periodical parental counselling.

These special children will have some special talents in them.

Parents were told that the IQ level in a Down's syndrome child must be assessed to give right schooling.

“Such children have hidden talents, will normally be good in drawing, music, dance, book binding, candle making and so on. They too can go for jobs and need not be dependant on others,” the paediatrician explains.

Down Syndrome (called as Trisomy 21 in medical parlance) is due to chromosomal error and it causes developmental delays - physical and mental- among children.

Two reasons were cited for a child to be affected - late marriage particularly those marrying after 35 years of age and marrying among close relatives are risk factors.

Parents can identify a Down's child by watching the head/neck movement at three months.

“We have to decide what type of life we can give to them. By early intervention and counselling for parents, the treatment cum rehabilitation can be given,” says Dr. Sundarapandian.

The awareness meeting was addressed by an expert panel- Dr. Nammalwar (clinical psychologist), Dr. Deeban Chakravarthy (physiotherapist), Dr. Renuka (speech therapist and special educator), Dr. Jeyasri (psychological counsellor) and Anusha Kannaperuman (orthodontist).

If everything is done right by the doctor and the mother, a Down Syndrome child will not go down in life, but will come up like any other normal child.




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