Also called: Trisomy 21
Down syndrome is a set of mental and physical symptoms that result from having an extra copy of chromosome 21. Even though people with Down syndrome may have some physical and mental features in common, symptoms of Down syndrome can range from mild to severe. Usually, mental development and physical development are slower in people with Down syndrome than in those without it.
People with the syndrome may also have other health problems. They may be born with heart disease. They may have dementia. They may have hearing problems, intestinal problems, eye, thyroid and skeletal problems. The chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as a woman gets older. Down syndrome cannot be cured. However, many people with Down syndrome live productive lives well into adulthood. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1)
This condition is a problem of chromosome matching at conception, the chromosomes of the male and female eggs do not pair off equally at 23 pairs. This abnormality will create 21 pairs only, and we see Downs Syndrome develop.
Given that this condition is established at birth is it possible that Chiropractic care can be of any assistance with these patients?
There have been a number of research papers done within our profession and these are listed below.
These papers might encourage parents or patients to consider the help and assistance that chiropractic care can give.
It will be noted from the research below, that the first two vertebras of the neck, the Atlas C1 and the Axis C2, and the cranium bones (scull bones) are the most common areas of treatment for patients.
Handicapped infants and chiropractic care: Down syndrome- Part 1. (2)
Subluxations of the atlas axis or occipital are often found in Down Syndrome infants. Another area that is commonly noted is cranial involvement. One case study was a 10 year old girl with encephalitis complications. After just one adjustment to the occiput/crainial region resulted in her sleeping nine hours straight and this continued for the majority of nights since that time. She also had improvement in her general muscle tone. The size of her head which Had grown disproportionately to her body began to stabilize.
In the studies it was noted that there was a significant reduction in hypotonia once they commenced chiropractic care. The writer Dr McMullen said that if she could work with infants in their early months, "it has been possible to reduce the symptoms of cranio facial flattening. These infants have also developed normal palatal arch/length, which I feel has prevented a common trait of tongue protrusion as none of these children have been affected by this."
Studies reveal that 10 to 20 percent of individuals with Down's Syndrome have radiographic Atlas/Axis instability.(3)
With X-rays it was established there was a 10%-20% atlas/axis instability in Downs Syndrome patients. It presented as an anterior arch/odontoid distance greater than 4.5mm. Spinal cord compression was also noted. These patients frequently experienced torticollis, spastic hemiparesis, neurogenic bowel and bladder. Also evident was paresthesia with gait problems. Staggering and clumsiness was another common finding.
Male Child - age 4 - Diagnosis: retardation, asthma, Down's syndrome, immune dysfunction. (4)
This male child had been to numerous clinics with asthma, Downs Syndrome, retardation and immune dysfunction. He was on 11 medications on the first consultation. After 4 months of adjustments all medications had been stopped and the diagnosis was being reviewed. Chiropractic treatments were very difficult, he would not lie on the couch. He had to be adjusted either in his mother arms, or Mum would lie on the couch on her back holding him on her stomach. With this 'security,' adjustments where given. The Adjustment listings: Atlas ASR, with a toggle type thrust.
These are just a few of the studies reported where patients have responded to chiropractic care, There is help for these patients. Chiropractors use this knowledge and can create improvement.
Call our office if you would like to talk with us more about this condition.
(2) McMullen, M.. International Chiropractic Association Review Jul/Aug 90;46:32-35
(3) International Chiropractic Paediatric Association newsletter. May 1990.
(4) International Chiropractic Paediatric Association newsletter, November 1996.