Posts Tagged down syndrome

Connection between Alzheimer’s Disease and Down Syndrome

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What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a condition in which a person is born with extra genetic material from chromosome 21, one of the 23 human chromosomes. In ways that scientists don’t yet understand, the extra copies of genes present in Down syndrome cause developmental problems and health issues. Down syndrome nearly always affects learning, language, and memory, but its impact varies widely from person to person. People with Down syndrome are valued members of their families and communities, and they contribute to society in a multitude of ways.

Prevalence and Prognosis

One in every 691 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately, 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome.

Due to advances in medical technology, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before (as many as 80% of adults with Down syndrome reach age 60, and many live even longer).

Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Studies suggest that more than 75% of those with Down syndrome aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, nearly 6 times the percentage of people in this age group who do not have Down syndrome. Because people with Down syndrome live, on average, 55 to 60 years, they are more likely to develop younger-onset Alzheimer’s (occurring before age 65) than late-onset Alzheimer’s (occurring at age 65 or older). Scientists think that the increased risk of dementia — like other health issues associated with Down syndrome — results from the extra genes present.

Symptoms of AD in Down Syndrome 

In individuals with Down syndrome, changes in overall function, personality and behavior may be more common early signs of Alzheimer’s than memory loss and forgetfulness. Early symptoms include:

  • Reduced interest in being sociable, conversing or expressing thoughts
  • Decreased enthusiasm for usual activities
  • Decline in ability to pay attention
  • Sadness, fearfulness or anxiety
  • Irritability, uncooperativeness or aggression
  • Restlessness or sleep disturbances
  • Seizures that begin in adulthood
  • Changes in coordination and walking
  • Increased noisiness or excitability

References, Resources, and Support

To learn more about this important topic or to access resources and support, please visit the websites listed below:

http://www.ndss.org/

http://www.ndss.org/Global/Aging%20and%20Down%20Syndrome.pdf

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/downsyndrome.html

http://www.dsgsemi.org/

http://www.alz.org/dementia/down-syndrome-alzheimers-symptoms.asp

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