Health A-Z

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In addition to the characteristic physical features and decreased mental abilities, other health problems frequently are seen in people with Down syndrome. These include:

  • Hearing deficits

  • Heart problems

  • Intestinal abnormalities

  • Eye problems

  • Low levels of thyroid hormone

  • Skeletal problems such as joint instability

  • Poor weight gain in infants

  • Kidney and urinary tract anomalies

People with Down syndrome develop leukemia more often than those without the disorder, and they are more likely to develop infections, problems with the immune system, skin disorders and seizures.

Infants with Down syndrome usually develop more slowly than other children of the same age, although a wide variation is seen. Language development is typically much slower, as is motor development. Their body strength may seem a little weak. For example, most toddlers walk between 12 and 14 months of age, but toddlers with Down syndrome walk between 15 and 36 months.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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