First Signs of Down Syndrome During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on August 13, 2012

Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is a condition that is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in the body. This extra material causes delay in both mental and physical development of a child. Though Down syndrome cannot be prevented, it can be detected well before the baby is born, and this helps parents prepare emotionally and physically for the new bundle of joy. Babies with Down syndrome may appear ‘floppy’, which normal babies may not display...

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...While the baby is still in the womb, though, the only way of knowing the possibility of him of her getting the syndrome is by tests which detect the extra chromosome and by testing the mental and physical development of the baby. In such babies, both mental and physical developments are slower than usual.In the first trimester, you may be asked to get a blood test to detect this syndrome. An ultrasound can determine any thickening of the skin fold around the baby’s neck, as this is one of the signs for this condition.In Down babies, the nasal bone is generally missing. Through an ultrasound, the doctor will look for the presence or absence of this bone. While these are the main indicators of Down syndrome, some other signs may also point to it.

  • Shorter thighs and upper arms
  • Cysts in the brain
  • Excessive gaps between the toes
  • Spots on the bowel
  • Spots in the heart
  • High fluid levels in the kidney and enlargement of the kidneys

Once the baby is born, a blood test will help determine whether the baby has got the syndrome or not. Such children may probably have delayed language development and may also have problems with day to day activities.

Down Syndrome Physical Issues

The physical characteristics of such babies include:

  • Hands and feet that are smaller compared to the rest of the body
  • Flat face
  • White spots near the eye
  • A crease in the palm
  • Loose ligaments
  • Poor muscles

Down Syndrome Health Issues

Besides physical defects these children have other health issues like:

  • Hearing defects
  • Heart problems
  • Vision problems
  • Intestinal problems
  • Thyroid problems
  • Dementia
  • Skeletal development issues

Besides a blood test and an ultrasound, your doctor may suggest that you to get an amniocentesis test done to order to confirm the presence of Down’s syndrome in the baby. This test may, however, increase the chances of a miscarriage. Also, a blood sample from the umbilical cord may be sent for detection of the syndrome.

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