March is Trisomy Awareness Month and we are celebrating by spreading education and understanding of feeding disorders with trisomy conditions. Trisomy occurs when a child has an extra full or partial chromosome, which may cause challenges with feeding and swallowing. It can occur with any chromosome, but let’s explore three of the most common: Trisomy 21, 18 and 13.
Down syndrome: Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome occurs in 1 in 691 live births in the United States. Children with Down syndrome are at risk for feeding and swallowing delays and picky eating issues because of reflux, heart conditions, low tone and weak oral motor skills. In addition, they also have a higher incidence of food allergies than their peers, which can cause food refusal if not diagnosed early. Parents of children with Down syndrome state that food allergies can be tricky to detect, since the medical community is generally not educated on the correlation of food allergies within this population. Having a Speech Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist who specializes in feeding therapy can help educate the medical team and formalize a treatment plan to address food refusal, vomiting, diarrhea and advancing the texture of their diet.
Edwards syndrome: Trisomy 18 or Edwards syndrome occurs in 1 in 5,000 live births in the United States. Children with Edwards syndrome have feeding difficulties with a predisposition to aspiration pneumonia (food or liquids going into the lungs) because of underdeveloped lungs and a small mouth and jaw. Aspiration pneumonia can also occur when a child inhales their own reflux or vomit, so watching these children carefully during mealtime is extremely important.
Patau syndrome: Trisomy 13 or Patau syndrome occurs in 1 in 10,000 live births each year worldwide. Children with Patau syndrome are at a risk for feeding problems and aspiration pneumonia because of their small head size as well as difficulties managing their breathing, sucking and swallowing coordination. Chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux and seizures also make feeding management more difficult for these kiddos, parents and medical team. Cardiac issues, apnea (interruptions in breathing) and oral facial clefts further contribute to lifelong feeding and swallowing difficulties. That said; they can advance to some degree in their self-feeding and swallowing milestones!
Children with trisomy conditions can overcome feeding and swallowing delays and be healthy and adventurous eaters with the help of persistent parents and a good feeding therapist! During this month, join team ezpz in encouraging others to give children with Down syndrome and other trisomy syndromes the opportunity to participate in the feeding community with the love, acceptance and respect they deserve.
How are you spreading awareness this month? Share it with us by using the hashtags: #ezpzfun #TrisomyAwarenessMonth #ChangingTheFaceOfBeauty.
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz