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Down's Syndrome is one of the most common birth defects in the United States. In most cases, babies born with down syndrome have some degree of mental retardation, as well as characteristic physical features. Many of these children also have other health problems. Every year one in every 800 to 1000 newborns are born with Down Syndrome.

That translates to approximately 5000 children. Down's Syndrome affects approximately 350,000 people. The life expectancy for a child born with this syndrome is approximately 55 years of age. The most common form of Down's Syndrome is often called “trisomy 21” and that is because individuals with this condition have three copies of the 21st chromosome.

Children with Down's Syndrome are often identified at birth as a result of physical chacterisitics associated with the syndrome. It varies from child to child the kind of symptoms they portray. Some may show a lot of the normal signs, others just vary. Some show quite a few symptoms while others show very few. Some of the features are also seen in people that do not have Down's Syndrome. Genetic testing must be done to confirm diagnosis. The most common features that shine through in Down's Syndrome are low muscle tone, babies appear to be floppy and have no structure, flat facial features with a small nose. Upward slant to the eyes, small skin folds on the inner corner of the eyes. They tend to have small, abnormally shaped ears, and have a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Hyperflexibility(excessive ability to flex joints) is often common in people that have Down's Syndrome. Also the fifth finger has only one flexion furrow instead of two. There is often an extra space between the big tow and the second toe and it is common to have an enlarged tongue.

There are several other health problems related to Down's Syndrome. As many as 50% of the children with Down's Syndrome are born with heart defects. Although in some children it is a very correctable thing, others experience heart failure shortly after birth. With Down's Syndrome however not all heart defects are immediately apparent. For this reason all infants born with Down's Syndrome should have an echocardiogram with in the first few months of life to check for heart problems. Another common disease that goes along with Down's Syndrome, 10 percent in babies and as much as 50% of adults have thyroid disease. The most common thyroid condition is known as hypothyroidism, and that is the slowing of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism is easily treated with medication however. More than half of the children born with Down's Syndrome also incur some visual problems such as crossed eyes, nearsightedness or farsightedness. In many cases these problems can be easily fixed by glasses or surgury. Hearing impairment is also another side effect to Down's Syndrome.

In order to treat the side-effects to this disease, regular check-ups by a pediatrician is highly recommended. Then on into adulthood it is very necessary. There is no cure for this disease, but people with Down Syndrome can lead very normal and full lives.