Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome: Parents Have a Right to be Informed

In January 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended that all pregnant women, regardless of age, be offered screening for Down syndrome. Historically, screening was limited to women 35 and older. When research revealed that 80 percent of Down syndrome children were born to younger mothers, however, the recommendation was amended.

According to the Washington Post, the majority of pregnant women who receive a definite diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to end their pregnancies. Though a difficult decision, it’s one that all parents have the right to make. Unfortunately, in some cases, mothers aren’t informed of their right to screening or diagnostic tests, are inadequately educated about the risks and issues, or are pushed into making decisions that aren’t right for them. In these instances, legal recourse may be necessary to recover medical costs and reimbursement for pain and suffering.

What is Down Syndrome?

The National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) describes Down syndrome as a “genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development.” A rare defect, it occurs about once in every 700 births, and is usually caused by an error in cell division, though scientists don’t know why this error crops up. As a result, the child is born with 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46—an “extra” chromosome that causes developmental problems.

Types of Down syndrome include:

1)     “Trisomy 21,” the most common type, with 47 chromosomes in every cell;

2)     “Translocation,” with an extra “piece” of chromosome 21 in all cells; and

3)     “Mosaicism,” where some cells have 46 chromosomes, and some 47.

What Are the Characteristics of Down Syndrome?

Most Down syndrome children share certain physical features like upward slanted eyes, small ears, small hands and feet, a protruding tongue, and a flat facial profile. Most have poor muscle tone as well, grow more slowly than their peers, and experience mild to moderate intellectual impairment.

Many children will also experience additional complications like infections, hearing and vision problems, thyroid issues, seizure disorders, obesity, respiratory problems, and a higher risk of childhood leukemia. About 40 percent have congenital heart defects requiring extensive medical treatment and even surgery.

What is the Current Down Syndrome Treatment?

Unfortunately, Down syndrome can’t be cured, but early medical help can mean the difference between a productive and unproductive life. Speech therapy, muscle exercises, and special education can all help a child better navigate his or her world. Regular checkups, medications, and even surgery may be necessary to control symptoms and manage any accompanying medical conditions like heart defects.

Parents Deserve Access to Down Syndrome Screening

Having a child with Down syndrome can put a tremendous strain on a family’s finances, relationships, psychiatric health, and overall well-being. Parents deserve to be made aware of all screening, diagnostic tests, and results data available. If you or a loved one has suffered financial, physical or emotional hardship related to Down syndrome, contact Chaffin Luhana LLP for a free and confidential case review. You may be entitled to compensation. Call 1-888-480-1123.