Down syndrome: Exams and tests during infancy (age 1 month to 1 year)

Down syndrome can cause a variety of health problems related to physical and mental functions. These problems vary in number and severity for each individual. Your child needs routine checkups (well-child visits) like all children do. He or she also needs regularly scheduled exams so that the doctor can look for early signs of health issues that are common among people who have Down syndrome. The sooner health issues are recognized, the better they can be managed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines about checking certain health issues in children ages 1 month to 1 year who have Down syndrome. Some of the issues to check include:

  • Ear problems. Children with Down syndrome are at risk for having hearing problems. Doctors check for ear infections. And they usually do a special hearing test (behavioral audiogram) before your child is 1 year of age. A hearing specialist (otolaryngologist) may need to see your child if hearing problems are suspected.
  • Eye problems. In addition to a vision test at each checkup, your baby's eyes should be thoroughly examined for problems (strabismus, cataracts, and nystagmus) by 6 months of age. Your baby should be examined by an eye doctor who specializes in children (pediatric ophthalmologist) or who is experienced in caring for children with disabilities.
  • Thyroid function. Babies with Down syndrome are at increased risk for thyroid disease. The doctor may do a blood test at ages 6 months and 12 months to screen for related problems.
  • Too much or too little weight gain. At each visit, your child's height and weight should be plotted on growth charts that have been adjusted for children with Down syndrome.

Your baby should get all immunizations according to the normal schedule unless there are special health concerns identified by your doctor.

Doctors also use the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group's health care guidelines for people who have Down syndrome.

Last Updated: August 4, 2009

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