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Down Syndrome: Developing New Growth Charts

Down Syndrome: Developing New Growth Charts

Photo: Close-up of a measuring tape 

Researchers will be measuring children with Down syndrome from birth to age 21 to develop updated growth charts. This effort brings together several experts.

Parents and doctors have known for a long time that children with Down syndrome tend to grow more slowly and are considerably shorter than most other children. But pediatricians needing to record growth milestones at regular office visits have an outdated set of growth charts based on data collected more than 25 years ago. Since that time, there have been major advances in the medical care of children with Down syndrome. In addition, the demographics of the general U.S. population have changed, and children are taller, but also more overweight.

"The past 20 years have seen significant improvements in the care of children with Down syndrome, accompanied by longer life expectancy," said Babette S. Zemel, director of the Nutrition and Growth Laboratory at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We believe that children with Down syndrome are growing better now than they were 20 years ago.” The researchers also want to look at how they are growing throughout childhood, from infancy to young adulthood, at how body mass index changes across time, and how that relates to body fat composition.

"If we can better understand the growth patterns and the rates of other illnesses that co-occur with Down syndrome, researchers may be better able to plan treatment and design preventive health programs," added Zemel. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized updated growth charts as an important tool for people providing health care to children with Down syndrome." In its grant guidelines, the CDC states that new growth charts produced from the study will be broadly distributed free of charge.

Under the grant, Zemel and colleagues will recruit approximately 600 children with Down syndrome, from birth to 20 years old, from Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In regularly scheduled follow-up visits, the researchers will measure the patients' growth and body dimensions and collect data about their health, dietary patterns and physical activities.

"In addition to developing more representative growth charts, we also expect to better understand what factors may contribute to growth-related problems in children with Down syndrome," added Zemel. Another important goal is to develop a screening tool for identifying children at risk for overweight and obesity, which are common concerns for adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome.

REHACARE.de; Source: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

- More about the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia at www.chop.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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