ABUJA- Mrs. Oladunni Ladipo, a physiotherapist with the National Hospital, Abuja, has said that early diagnosis and management helps in the development of skills and talents of children with Down syndrome.
Ladipo said this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
She said that it was wrong to conclude that children born with Down syndrome may end up without any skill or talent.
According to her, early intervention could aid the social interaction and communication of affected children through the development of their motor, language and social skills.
She said that medical therapy and support groups could also help to improve the condition of the affected children.
Ladipo said that the ailment could not be cured but early intervention was the best hope for the child’s development to a useful adult.
She said most children with Down syndrome had congenital abnormalities such as heart conditions, hearing problems and other diseases.
Ladipo urged parents of Down’s babies to seek further medical examination after delivery so that such conditions could be identified early for better management.
She said that Down’s babies were also called floppy babies because of their inability to sit up.
She said floppy babies needed supportive instruments like neck collars to keep their necks in place, knee pads and back slabs behind their legs to prevent their bones from falling.
According to Ladipo, mothers of Down’s babies should invest in shoes with inbuilt arch support in order to aid their ability to walk and to prevent flat feet.
She said Down syndrome children could benefit from speech therapy and various exercises to help improve their physical abilities.
The physiotherapist said that the chances of having a child with Down syndrome could increase with the age of the mother and advised older women against birth spacing.
According to her, some common physical signs of Down syndrome include flat face, upward eyes with small hands and feet.
Ladipo said Down syndrome could range from mild to severe cases where mental and physical development was slower in people with the condition than those without.
She noted that most parents with Down syndrome children experienced frustration, anger, fear and anxiety.
She said the emotions could prevent them from bringing their children out in public and they sometimes end up locking them up at home.
“With the help of a physiotherapist, which may take months or years, the condition will definitely get better.’’
The expert advised parents with Down syndrome children to network; communicate and encourage one another for their children to live a happier life.
She added that in networking, parents would understand each other’s feelings which would further help resolve and manage their emotions.
Ladipo advised that visiting support groups, such as child development centre for children with disabilities in Lagos, could help the child learn various vocations like painting and baking, among others.
She encouraged parents to feed, dress, cuddle, play and love their babies, adding that most Down babies love music.