CHOC Expert Discusses Support Services For Down Syndrome Patients

Ira T. Lott, M.D. is a Pediatric Neurologist at CHOC Children’s. His research has focused on the many aspects of Down syndrome, most recently on the relationship between aging and development. Dr. Lott serves as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Down Syndrome Society in New York.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs in one in every 691 births, according to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). The NDSS asserts that individuals with Down syndrome learn and develop at their own rate and in their own way, just like all people.  However, they face medical challenges that can include heart defects, digestive diseases, as well as skin, hormone and vision problems. These unique health care and developmental concerns often require integrated services from a multitude of health care, social and educational services.

To address these concerns, Dr. Lott recommends a child with Down syndrome undergo a general evaluation to determine their specific needs. Then, a bridge must be created between the primary care physician and the specialty care providers. Collaboration within the various providers is needed to ensure the patients reach their potential as they join community life and go through school. The following support services are recommended to ensure a Down syndrome child’s needs are being met:

• Comprehensive medical assessment, from birth to age 18, including continued follow-up care coordinated with between the providers and the patient’s family
• Referrals, as required, to other sub-specialists and ancillary services as identified by the primary care physician and specialists
• Supplementary medical care and case management services should complement primary care physician efforts

Although people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses. Children with Down syndrome learn to do most activities a child without the condition would, only somewhat later.

“I find children with Down syndrome a joy to work with – they are very social and have a positive effect on the healthcare provider,” says Dr. Lott. “Many do great in the Special Olympics and even become big T.V. stars.”

For more information please visit the National Down Syndrome Society at www.ndss.org.

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