Down Syndrome (cont.)

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What other conditions are associated with Down syndrome?

Heart conditions

Apart from cognitive impairment, the most common medical conditions associated with Down syndrome are congenital heart defects. About half of all people with Down syndrome are born with a heart defect, often with an atrioventricular septal defect. Other common heart defects occurring in Down syndrome include ventricular septal defect, atrial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, and patent ductus arteriosus. Some babies will require surgery shortly after birth to correct these heart defects.

Gastrointestinal conditions

Gastrointestinal conditions are also commonly associated with Down syndrome, especially esophageal atresia, tracheoesophageal fistula, duodenal atresia or stenosis, Hirschsprung disease, and imperforate anus. Individuals with Down syndrome are at a higher risk for developing celiac disease. Corrective surgery is sometimes necessary for gastrointestinal problems.


Certain types of cancer are more frequently found in Down syndrome, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (a type of blood cancer), myeloid leukemia, and testicular cancer. Solid tumors on the other hand rarely occur in this population.

Other conditions

Other medical conditions include:

  • hearing loss,
  • frequent ear infections (otitis media),
  • underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism),
  • cervical spine instability,
  • visual impairment,
  • sleep apnea,
  • obesity,
  • constipation,
  • infantile spasms,
  • seizures,
  • dementia, and
  • early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

About half of individuals with Down syndrome have coexisting psychiatric or behavior conditions, such as:

  • autism spectrum disorders,
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
  • depression,
  • stereotypical movement disorders, and
  • obsessive compulsive disorder.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2014

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