Down Syndrome (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

How do adolescents with Down syndrome develop?

Adolescents with Down syndrome undergo the same hormonal changes during puberty as typically developing children. Girls with Down syndrome have regular menstrual periods and should receive instructions on hygiene. Although women with Down syndrome are not very fertile, they can become pregnant. Men with Down syndrome have low sperm count, but in some cases have fathered children. Proper education regarding sexual development and contraception is very important.

What should one expect for adults with Down syndrome?

Individuals with Down syndrome live longer than ever before. Due to full inclusion in society, many adults with Down syndrome now live semi-independently, enjoy relationships, work, and contribute to their community.

Adults with Down syndrome also age faster than average. The older they become, the higher the risk of developing hypothyroidism, late-onset seizures (tonic-clonic seizures in particular), memory loss, and dementia. By age 40, many individuals with Down syndrome will show signs of dementia and early-onset Alzheimer's disease. By age 65, over 75% of adults will develop Alzheimer's disease. Why individuals with Down syndrome age prematurely and why they develop Alzheimer's disease is not entirely clear. At least one gene (the amyloid precursor protein) on chromosome 21 is thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease. Since individuals with Down syndrome have three copies of this gene, it is likely that this gene contributes to the increased occurrence of Alzheimer's disease in this population.

Detecting dementia and early signs of Alzheimer's disease is a challenge in individuals with Down syndrome who are often already cognitively impaired. It is important for caregivers and doctors to be aware of changes in skills necessary for independence.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Down Syndrome - Symptoms Question: Are you caring for someone with Down syndrome? What symptoms is he/she experiencing with Down syndrome?
Down Syndrome - Experience Question: Please describe your child's experience with an early intervention program for Down syndrome.
Down Syndrome - Coping and Management Question: In what ways does having a child with Down syndrome affect your life and family?
Down Syndrome - Maternal Age Question: Was maternal age an issue in conceiving a child with Down syndrome? Please share your story.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!