General: Patients should regularly visit their doctors in order to treat and help prevent complications of Down syndrome. Patients typically live to be 50 years of age or older, depending on the severity of health-related problems.
Heart defects: About 50% of Down syndrome patients are born with heart defects, which range from mild to life-threatening. Some infants may need to undergo surgery to correct structural problems of the heart. Some of the most common heart abnormalities include endocardial cushion defect, ventricular septal defect, secundum arterial septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, and isolated patent arteriosus. These defects occur when parts of the heart, such as the walls, chambers, or valves, do not develop properly.
Leukemia: Down syndrome patients are born with impaired cellular immunity. Therefore, children with Down syndrome have an increased risk of developing a type of cancer called leukemia. Researchers estimate that children and adolescents with Down are 10-30% more likely to develop leukemia than the general population.
Infectious diseases: Patients with Down syndrome generally have abnormal immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections and diseases. Pneumonia is one of the most common infections to affect Down syndrome patients.
Dementia: Adults with Down syndrome are more likely to develop dementia than people who do not have the syndrome. Dementia symptoms often develop before the age of 40. Dementia is the loss of mental ability that is so severe that it interferes with daily functioning.
Other problems: Down syndrome has also been associated with many other health problems, including gastrointestinal blockage, thyroid problems, hearing loss, dental problems, and poor vision.
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