Down syndrome: Exams and tests during adolescence and early adulthood (ages 13 to 21)

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 a well-child visit each year like all children of this age 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 teens and young adults who have Down syndrome. Some of the issues to check include:

  • Skin problems. During puberty extreme dryness, acne, or other problems may develop. These can get worse if they are not recognized and treated.
  • Thyroid function. People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for thyroid disease, such as hypothyroidism. The doctor may do a blood test once a year to screen for related problems.
  • Hearing problems. People with Down syndrome may be prone to hearing problems. They usually need hearing tests once a year.
  • Eye problems. A teenager or adult should have a thorough eye exam once a year.
  • Celiac disease . If your teen shows signs of reacting to gluten in foods, the doctor may do a blood test to check for celiac disease.

Talk with your doctor about your teen's transition into adulthood. Your doctor can help you consider the needs of your child, such as vocational training and sexual education.

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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