Down syndrome: Exams and tests during middle and late childhood (ages 5 to 13)

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 5 to 13 who have Down syndrome. Some of the issues to check include:

  • Too much or too little weight gain. Your child's height and weight should be plotted on growth charts that have been adjusted for children with Down syndrome.
  • Ear problems. Children with Down syndrome may be prone to hearing problems and ear infections. Hearing should be tested once a year. A hearing specialist (otolaryngologist) may need to see your child.
  • Eye problems. Children with Down syndrome are at risk for developing nearsightedness or farsightedness. Once a year, your child 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. Children with Down syndrome are at risk for getting thyroid disease, such as hypothyroidism. The doctor may do a blood test once a year to screen for related problems.
  • Skin problems. During puberty extreme dryness, acne, or other problems may develop and/or get worse if they are not recognized and treated.
  • Sleep apnea . You may be asked questions about your child's sleeping habits, such as whether he or she snores or is restless.
  • Celiac disease . If your child shows signs of reacting to gluten in foods, the doctor may do a blood test to check for celiac disease.

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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