Down's syndrome : Other health conditions

Important

If you have Down's syndrome, you should see a GP once a year for a check-up, so they can check your health.

This is because there are other health conditions you may be more likely to have.

Find out more about annual health checks.


More common health needs

Help with speech, language and communication

Children with Down's syndrome might need some help speaking.

A speech and language therapist can help. They can:

  • check if your child needs any help with their speech
  • suggest things you can do to help your child with their speech

Speak to a children's doctor (paediatrician), health visitor or GP who can refer your child to see a therapist.

Help with vision and hearing

People with Down's syndrome will need to have their sight and hearing regularly checked.

They may need to:

  • wear glasses
  • have a hearing aid
  • see a specialist for help if they have something called glue ear

Speak to a children's doctor (paediatrician), health visitor or GP for more information.

Having vaccinations

People with Down's syndrome are more likely to become unwell through an infection like pneumonia or flu.

So it's important to get vaccinations.

Find out more about what vaccinations you should get.

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Other conditions

Heart conditions

Doctors will check your baby's heart soon after they're born.

This is because almost half of all children with Down's syndrome are born with a heart condition (congenital heart defect).

If your baby has a heart condition it can sometimes get better on its own. But sometimes surgery is needed.

Speak to a children's doctor (paediatrician) to find out the next steps for your baby's care.

Autism

Some people with Down's syndrome can also have autism.

Common signs of autism include:

  • finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • getting very anxious about social situations
  • finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on your own

Find out more about signs of autism.

Alzheimer's and dementia

Adults with Down's syndrome should have regular check-ups from the age of 30 to look for any possible signs of dementia.

This is because they can develop dementia at a younger age.

It can help to look out for signs such as:

  • not being able to remember new things
  • getting confused more easily
  • finding it harder to understand what people are saying

Often these signs can be linked to conditions other than dementia.

But if you think someone you know is showing signs of dementia encourage them to speak to a GP.

You can read more in the Down's Syndrome Association's booklet Getting older (PDF, 535kb)

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