Women who conceive pregnancies after the age of 35 years stand the risk of being delivered of babies with Down syndrome, a speech therapist, Maryam Ibrahim-Maifada, has said.
“The older the mother, the higher the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome,’’ Ms Ibrahim-Maifada told newsmen in Kaduna on Friday.
“Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. Most babies are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes within each cell for a total of 46. Majority of babies with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome,’’ she said.
She noted that babies born with Down syndrome faced physical and mental challenges throughout life.
They typically have distinctive body and facial features that set them apart. They are more likely to develop slowly, and are more at risk of some medical conditions, she said.
Ms Ibrahim-Maifada listed some of the medical conditions as delays in speech and language development, attention problems, sleep difficulties, stubbornness and tantrums, delays in recognition, and delayed toilet training.
She also listed physical signs of Down syndrome to include short, stocky physical size; with a short neck, poor muscle tone, flattened facial features, especially the bridge of the nose, and small ears.
Others are almond-shaped eyes that slant upward, small hands and feet, single deep crease across the center of the palm.
She listed other medical conditions associated with Down syndrome to include heart problems, thyroid abnormalities, auditory and vision problems and low fertility rate males.
“About 50 per cent of women with Down syndrome are able to bear children. The possibility of risk of their children having the condition is between 35 per cent and 50 per cent,’’ Ms Ibrahim-Maifada.