Some Medical and Health Matters
As recently as the 1950s, life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was as low as 15 years of age. In recent times, progress in medical and social sciences has very much improved the health and the quality of life enjoyed by people with Down syndrome. In Australia today, most people with Down syndrome will enjoy a long, happy and healthy life.
There are some common health issues and some more serious medical conditions that are more likely to occur in people with Down syndrome than in other people. People with Down syndrome often have lowered general immunity compared to the general population. This means that they may be more susceptible to infections and common illnesses, especially in early childhood. However, a diagnosis of Down syndrome does not mean that someone cannot have a healthy life. Some people with Down syndrome are very fit and healthy, while others experience a range of health issues.
Regular health checks may be required for specific issues. Living a healthy lifestyle is important, including keeping fit and getting regular exercise.
Even with a healthy diet, there can be a tendency for both children and adults with Down syndrome to become overweight. An active lifestyle with plenty of physical activity helps to counterbalance this tendency and encourages general health and fitness.
A small percentage of people with Down syndrome will require a high level of living support. This may be because of complex health issues or a greater degree of intellectual disability.
The most important influence on early development is daily interaction and activities within the family.