Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Thyroid Function

Big eyes!
I haven't written any facts about Down Syndrome for a while, so I thought I'd try and explain why some people with Down Syndrome are quite prone to putting on weight. A large percentage of people with Down Syndrome have some sort of thyroid condition, with hypothyroidism being the most common. Hypothyroidism means the person with it has an underactive thyroid (in varying degrees from mild to severe). An underactive thyroid can make it very easy to put on weight, and can also contribute to depression and other symptoms. Weight gain, combined with a generally shorter than average stature, means that a lot of people with Down Syndrome can appear to be quite 'short and overweight'.

These days, babies born with Down Syndrome are monitored, from birth, with regular blood tests to keep an eye on their thyroid function. Felix had his checked twice in his first year of life and has annual blood tests now. If any abnormality is detected, these children will be medicated straight away and their parents will sometimes take them to a nutritionist to talk about ways to help control excessive weight gain, and healthy eating. We're so lucky that Medical research has advanced so much over the past 20 years, and these sorts of issues can be monitored, and detected early, to give our kids the best chance of a healthy life. Felix's generation, of people with Down Syndrome, will likely have less weight gain issues due to early detection of thyroid abnormalities. So far Felix's thyroid function has been normal, but we'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

Concentrating hard on his ipad.
Felix has been a delight these past few days; very busy, but delightful! He has been using his manners so well and nearly always signs 'please' and 'thank you'. His use of 'please' has been really encouraging because he was getting to a point where he would just point at something and grunt, and get really frustrated that he couldn't ask for it. Now that he can sign 'please', he can point to what he wants (if he doesn't know the sign), and ask 'please', but without the grunting. The sign for 'help' has also been really useful and is one he uses all the time now. If his little stacking boats, that he plays with in the bath, are stuck together, he patiently puts them in his lap, looks up at me with those big, blue eyes and signs 'help'.

I was changing the sheets on my bed this afternoon. What is usually a fairly quick job to do, turned into a fun, but time consuming one. Felix thinks it's hilarious when I shake out the clean sheets to spread them over the bed. He laughs his head off and tries to run underneath the sheets. I haven't got the heart to make the bed when he's having so much fun, so I waved the sheets around until my arms hurt. He stood underneath them and giggled and giggled, reaching his hands above his head to touch them. He was a very big helper when I had to put the pillowcases on the pillows. He pushed the pillows with all his might to get them inside the case and very proudly lifted them up and put them back on the bed when they were done. Such a cutie!