Pregnancy is a hugely exciting time in any soon to be parents’ lives. After all, it’s the process of preparing to bring a whole new life into this world, the importance of which can certainly not be discounted. If you are the pregnant half of the couple, caring for your body well throughout the course of your pregnancy – and even before you get pregnant – can help to ensure your baby’s health as well as your own. However, there are certainly cases when genetic problems are detected while the child is still in utero, genetic conditions that are not preventable and happen for a variety of reasons out of the control of both of the parents in question.
Down Syndrome is one of the conditions, and is actually quite a bit more common than many realize. In fact, up to 10% of the entire population of the world has some type of disability, and many of those people have been diagnosed with down syndrome. In fact, for every 700 babies that are born here in the United States alone, about one of them will have a Down Syndrome diagnosis. In total, this means about 6,000 babies with the condition are born each and every year, though this number has already decreased by about 30%, something that can typically be attributed to better access to prenatal screening.
There are, of course, some risk factors for Down Syndrome. One of those is age, though only for the person who is becoming pregnant. After a woman reaches the age of 35, any pregnancy she carries after this point will be at a higher risk of Down Syndrome. Fortunately, this risk is still quite low, but still might lead to the push for more extensive screening throughout the pregnancy. This advanced gestational age, often referred to as a geriatric pregnancy, can also lead to a number of other problems as well, thus also necessitating further prenatal screening than would be necessary for a younger woman’s pregnancy in the vast majority of cases.
If you do find out that your unborn child has Down Syndrome, there are a number of things to be considered in raising a child with Down Syndrome, as parenting a child with Down Syndrome will certainly come with its set of unique challenges, as will parenting a child who has any type of disability – or even just parenting in general, for that matter. For instance, it’s important to know and understand that there are a number of different types of Down Syndrome.
Different types of Down Syndrome will present in a variety of severities. For some people with more minor types of Down Syndrome, the deficits that are associated with Down Syndrome will be relatively minor and easy to cope with. Some people with such types of Down Syndrome might even be able to one day live and function in the world independently and much in the way that a person without Down Syndrome would be able to do. However, it is also important to note that some types of Down Syndrome are considerably more severe and that people who have been diagnosed with these types of Down Syndrome will likely need more intensive care all throughout the course of their lives. Understanding all of the types of Down Syndrome out there, as well as the type that your child has, will make parenting a child with this condition as easy as possible.
You’ll also have to take into account the health needs of your child, should they have been diagnosed with any of the types of Down Syndrome possible. For instance, children with Down Syndrome, even newborn babies, are more likely to have complications with their heart. If such complications are not caught and monitored, they can even unfortunately end up being deadly. Therefore, children who are at risk of heart conditions and problems like children with Down Syndrome should be monitored and screened thoroughly both in utero as well as after they are born. This will, in many cases, save lives and prevent further damage from being done to their already fragile hearts. At the end of the day, heart problems like these can even be fully repaired.