Yesterday, I did a post on some new research which may help with some of the symptoms of Down Syndrome. I received an email from one of my readers who has a son with Down Syndrome and with her permission, I am posting it to give everyone a broader view and to remember that these kids are a wonderful addition to their families (I am reposting this from 2008). See also one of my previous posts:
Hi -I just read your blog entry about "Down syndrome prevention". That research truly is very exciting, and I hope that it is successful- but I wanted to offer another viewpoint as well.
I was 44 when my son was born with Down syndrome. At first, I was shocked/depressed/angry (if it was a negative emotion..you name it, I had it)
But Daniel truly has been a blessing to our entire family. He is the youngest of our 7 kids, and the favorite of all of his siblings. He loves his life, and, since his successful heart surgery at 8 months, has been a very healthy child. I guess that I just wanted to say that if a woman does find out that her unborn baby has Ds, it doesn't mean that her child won't be able to have a good life. I wish that I had known that before Danny was born, because it sure would have saved me a lot of grief.
I have attached a picture of Danny. He is 10 yrs old now.
Listen to the Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be. (Shel Silverstein)
Many women who are pregnant over the age of 40 worry about the increased risk of having a child with Down Syndrome (even though the risk is still somewhat small). Here is an interesting article from newscientist.com about how we may be able to treat the condition in the womb. Read more:
Children with Down's have an extra copy of chromosome 21, while mice engineered to have a similar condition are given an extra copy of a segment of chromosome 16. In both species, the development of certain motor and sensory abilities is delayed. These "trisomic" individuals may also have learning difficulties and symptoms of Alzheimer's later in life.
Inhibiting the neurotransmitter GABA in trisomic mice can improve cognition and some have suggested this could be used in children. It would be even better, however, to treat Down's before a child is born and so improve cognitive potential.
Previous studies both of people with Down's and trisomic mice have also revealed malfunctions in glial cells - brain cells that regulate the development of neurons by releasing certain proteins. The aberrant cells produce less of these proteins than normal. And adding segments of some of these proteins - known as NAP and SAL - to cultured neurons from people with Down's, which would otherwise degenerate, seems to protect the neurons (Current Pharmaceutical Design, DOI: 10.2174/138161207780618957).
After nine months of pregnancy and a hospital stay for delivery, you start to rely on the constant medical supervision. Then all of a sudden, you're handed your baby, and you're on your own. It can be scary, especially if you're a first time mom. Here's an article that may help with a smooth transition:
Babies don't need a lot of "things" to be comfortable, healthy, and happy. What they need most is lots of attention, time, patience and love. However, there are some basic items to have when your baby arrives home. If this is not your first baby, you probably already know about or even have some of the basics. However, even if this is not your first child, equipment safety standards and recommendations are constantly changing, so it is best keep up-to-date on current standards. Here are some of the essentials:
Car seat: You can't leave the hospital without one. Choose one that easily fits into your car. Get help installing it (contact your local AAA or fire department). If a car seat has been in an accident or does not meet current safety standards, do not use it at all.
Place to sleep:Use a crib or other sleeping arrangement. Make sure the crib slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart and that no lead paint was used on it. The mattress for the crib needs to fit snuggly into the crib so that the baby cannot slip in between the mattress and the crib side. Babies should not sleep with pillows or other heavy bedding.
Diapers and wipes: Make sure you have some newborn sizes and a few of the next size up - infants grow quickly the first few weeks.
Stroller: For newborns and small babies, it is best to either use the sturdier traditional or "single" stroller. Always use the belt strap. Umbrella strollers are okay for toddlers, but not for babies that can't sit up on their own.
Sling carrier: An infant sling is a way for you and your baby to bond. Babies need a lot of holding and touching to nurture their emotional and physical growth. A baby sling can help you to keep your baby close and be able to talk with your baby while moving about.
First aid/emergency supplies: Ask your pediatrician about any supplies and medications (thermometer, baby acetaminophen) you should keep at home.
Sanitation/Germs: It is important to make sure you or other people in contact with the baby wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling the baby, preparing food, and of course, diapering.
Taking Baby Out: Although newborns can certainly go out, it is advised not to expose your baby to crowds, such as in shopping malls or grocery stores, because they are still very vulnerable. Babies' immune systems are not fully developed and they need time, while going through required immunizations, for their bodies to grow and adjust. Try to wait until they are at least four or five months old before exposing them to world of germs and viruses.
Safety items: Having safe, current and properly working equipment, such as car seats and strollers, is a priority. Some other things you can have to make sure your baby is safe, especially when they start to move around around, include: Cover plugs for electrical outlets Cabinet locks Toilet seat locks Safety gates for stairways or rooms off limits Cord shorteners for blinds or any other cords that could be pulled Corner covers to place over sharp edges or corners on furniture
Clothes: Onesies, sleepers, outerwear appropriate for the season, a couple of crib blankets, crib sheets, and receiving blankets are basic clothing items for newborns.
Play items: Babies learn through touch and taste. To help them develop, having the following items can help stimulate and amuse them: a mobile musical toys or toys that make noise (rattle) music soft animals soft baby book
I'll Admit, I was a bit obsessive about whether or not my daughter was on track with each of her developmental milestones. If she wasn't exactly doing what my sources said she should be, I would go into a tailspin. She usually started doing whatever it was in the next week or two. One thing I've learned is that every child develops at their own pace. Some babies walk early, some talk early, but things usually level out as they get older. Here is a quick reference on the different developmental milestones by age.
2 Months Smiles at the sound of your voice 3 Months Raises head and chest when lying on stomach Grasps objects Smiles at other people 4 Months Babbles, laughs, and tries to imitate sounds 6 Months Rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back Moves objects from hand to hand 7 Months Responds to own name Finds partially hidden objects 9 Months Sits without support Crawls 12 Months Walks with or without support Says at least one word Enjoys imitating people 18 Months Walks independently Drinks from a cup Says at least 15 words 2 Years Runs Speaks in two-word sentences Follows simple instructions Begins make-believe play 3 Years Climbs well Speaks in multiword sentences Sorts objects by shape and color 4 Years Gets along with people outside the family Draws circles and squares Rides a tricycle 5 Years Tells name and address Jumps, hops, and skips Gets dressed Counts 10 or more objects
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