Early Intervention is Key to Helping Children with Down Syndrome
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is improving the lives of children with Down Syndrome by providing access to specialist therapeutic and educational resources through its Early Intervention Programme at the Child Development Centre and Therapy Services available at Rumailah Hospital.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of all, or partial extra copy of Chromosome 21. The condition, which is the most common chromosome abnormality, is typically associated with characteristic physical features, health and developmental challenges and intellectual disability.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the incidence of Down Syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 live births worldwide. Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children around the world are born with Down Syndrome each year.
Early Intervention and Rehabilitation
According to the Child Development and Rehabilitation Service specialists at the HMC Child Development Centre and Therapy Services, early intervention and rehabilitation are key to helping children with Down Syndrome thrive. Currently, there are 73 children with the condition under the age of three receiving care through the Early Intervention Programme. Each year, the programme receives between 40 to 50 new referrals.
While individuals with Down Syndrome are more likely to have certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, hearing and vision problems, and gastrointestinal issues, many of these conditions are now treatable. Today, most individuals with Down syndrome lead healthy lives and enjoy a higher life expectancy.
Dr Sona Fayed Tahtamouni, Paediatric Consultant at HMC, explained that children with Down Syndrome nearly always have physical and intellectual disabilities.
They generally reach developmental milestones at a later age. These children have an increased risk of certain health problems, including congenital heart defects, epilepsy, leukemia, thyroid diseases, and hearing and vision disorders. They may also have a weak immune function. Regular screening for health problems common in people with Down Syndrome is recommended throughout their life.’
Dr Tahtamouni maintained that the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome can be improved by meeting their healthcare needs. She stressed the importance of early intervention programmes.
Parents of two-year-old Layanne Fahmi, one of the children currently receiving care at HMC, said they appreciate the benefits of early intervention programmes and are glad that their daughter is being cared for by a team of experts who are not only caring but empathetic towards what the family is going through. Layanne is presently undergoing rehabilitation and special education services at HMC.
World Down Syndrome Day
To highlight World Down Syndrome Day, observed globally every 21 March, HMC is organising a family day for patients and their families at Bayt Al Dhiyafah in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City from 10 am to 3 pm. Awareness events are also planned from 8 am to 12 pm across the main lobbies of the Women’s Hospital, Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Al Khor Hospital, Qatar Rehabilitation Institute, and the Women’s Wellness and Research Centre. The Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics will also participate and will provide gifts to children.
For more information, visit the HMC website at hamad.qa.