Having a child born with Down syndrome is not easy. Some parents feel disappointed, embarrassed, and did not even acknowledge their existence.
Psychologists for child with special needs from UGM, Dra. Aisah Indati, M.S., says that parents who have a child with Down syndrome is expected to accept the condition of their children. Acceptance and the sincerity of the parents can support the development of the child.
"The key is for parents to accept the conditions of their children," she explained, Monday (21/3), which coincides with the commemoration of World Down Syndrome Day.
The rejection of the child will hamper their growth and development. This is because children are not getting the attention and good treatment from older people.
"In fact, these children require more attention from their parents," she said.
Aisah convey parents with Down syndrome children are expected to know the condition of their baby well. So that the right treatment can be given to children in accordance with the needs and the child's condition at that time.
"We should know what kind of character they have and help them to be independent by providing stimulus in accordance with the child's ability," she explained.
If the child suffers from Down syndrome, Aisah urges parents to consult a psychologist or a doctor. They could also help them determine the child's mental age. Thus, parents can treat their children in accordance with the actual situation.
"They could be at the age of 11 years old, but their mental age could be 4 years old," she explained.
Aisah emphasised that parents with Down syndrome children continue to support their sons and daughters who are born with the special conditions. Parents are expected not too focused on their children’s weakness.
"Continue to explore interests and talents of these special children. Give them full support because there is still another side that could be developed and be proud of," said Aisah.
Down Syndrome Can be Detected
Meanwhile, the Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist of UGM Academic Hospital, dr. Widya Dwi Astuti, Sp.OG., mentions a fetus with Down syndrome can be detected early through inspection in the early stages of pregnancy. Indications of Down syndrome can be seen through the inspection of Ultrasonography (USG).
"Pregnancies with fetal Down syndrome does not show specific symptoms in pregnant women, but it can be known by performing ultrasound examinations," she said.
Down Syndrome arises not because of heredity but by the presence of chromosome 21 in triplicate or called trisomy 21. In other words, Down syndrome is due to abnormalities in chromosome number 21.
Widya explained that ultrasound examination in the early stage was conducted to determine the possibility of abnormalities in the fetus such as nape bone thickening at 11-14 weeks of gestation. When thickening of the area exceeding 3 mm, the fetus is suspected with Down syndrome.
If the results of the ultrasound showed a fetus affected by Down syndrome, Widya said further investigation needs to be done through a blood test. The blood test for fetal chromosomal karyotyping is to ensure positive trisomy 21 or not. Next, further investigation needs to be done in the second trimester for follow-up ultrasound to see if there are abnormalities of fetal organs.
"If an abnormality is severe enough to cause the baby not survive after birth, it’s better to have termination of pregnancy," she said.
Fetuses with chromosomal abnormalities, said by Widya, usually also have abnormalities in other organs. Some of them have abnormalities in the heart, anencephali or not having cranium, renal disorders, gastrointestinal organ development disorders, as well as cleft lip.
According to the doctor, the risk of the incidence of Down syndrome can be minimized by having pregnancy during reproductive age between 20-35 years. If the pregnancy is beyond reproductive age, then the possibility of fetuses with Down syndrome will be higher. However, the occurance of pregnancy problem on reproductive age is still possible, but with a smaller chance.
Beside undergoing pregnancy at a reproductive age, Widya urged people to start a healthy lifestyle. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, it can reduce the risk of Down syndrome.