The road to motherhood is a beautiful and joyous experience but sometimes it can be fraught with challenges which however do not detract in any way from the joyous experience that it is. The expectations of an “at-term”, chromosomal normal child is the expected outcome of pregnancy but this is not always the case. Although, expectations are not always as envisioned, knowing what to expect is half of the battle won.
A moment often met with dismay which shouldn’t be is a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. This might seem like an overwhelming diagnosis but it is very much manageable. Being prepared and knowing what to expect should help in raising a child with Down syndrome.
We will in the course of this 3 part series look at meaningful suggestions for preparing for a Child with Down’s syndrome, explaining what to expect and how to best manage the situation.
We begin with explaining what Down syndrome is:
Down syndrome is a gene problem which is characterized by a set of physical and mental traits. Down syndrome is usually due to mainly unknown factors which involve chromosome abnormalities. There are two possibilities of which one is unrelated to maternal age (this can be as a result of a defect on either the father or mother’s chromosome) and the other which occurs in older pregnant women (related to maternal age). Having a pregnancy after the age of 40years increases the risk further. The most common form of Down’s is the Trisomy 21 which just means that individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46, thereby leaving an egg or sperm with an extra copy of chromosome before or at conception. The reason for any of this occurring is not exactly known.
Down syndrome is not an illness; it is more of a term that describes certain distinct features seen with the chromosomal changes. The extra Chromosome not only affects physical features but intellect and overall development of a baby.
Down syndrome can be diagnosed during pregnancy with screening and diagnostic test available. Discuss this with your doctors and ask about your options if any. Sometimes the diagnosis is made after birth based first off of physical examination by your doctor and confirmed by blood tests.