There is no specific treatment for Down syndrome. If treatment is needed, it is usually for associated health problems. For example, a child born with a gastrointestinal blockage may need major surgery right after birth. Certain heart defects may also require surgery.
When breast-feeding, the baby should be well supported and fully awake. The baby may have some leakage because of poor tongue control. But many infants with Down syndrome can successfully breastfeed.
Obesity can become a problem for older children and adults. Getting plenty of activity and avoiding high-calorie foods are important. Before beginning sports activities, the child's neck and hips should be examined.
Behavioral training can help people with Down syndrome and their families deal with the frustration, anger, and compulsive behavior that often occur. Parents and caregivers should learn to help a person with Down syndrome deal with frustration. At the same time, it is important to encourage independence.
Teen girls and women with Down syndrome are usually able to get pregnant. There is an increased risk for sexual abuse and other types of abuse in both males and females. It is important for those with Down syndrome to:
Be taught about pregnancy and taking the proper precautions
Learn to advocate for themselves in difficult situations
Be in a safe environment
If the person has any heart defects or other heart problems, antibiotics may need to be prescribed to prevent a heart infection called endocarditis.
Special education and training is offered in most communities for children with delays in mental development. Speech therapy may help improve language skills. Physical therapy may teach movement skills. Occupational therapy may help with feeding and performing tasks. Mental health care can help both parents and the child manage mood or behavior problems. Special educators are also often needed.