x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE's Tawam Hospital opens Down syndrome clinic

Tawam Hospital opens a specialist clinic that will provide medical care and counselling to families of children with Down syndrome.

A clinic specialising in care for children with Down syndrome has been opened at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain.

The clinic, part of the paediatric department's outpatient area, will operate on Monday afternoons.

On top of medical care, patients and their families will be offered advice on how to cope with the condition, as well as information on what Down syndrome is.

"We emphasise and celebrate the unique abilities of each person with Down syndrome and offer supportive guidance for issues related to associated challenges," said Dr Jennifer Corder, a consultant paediatrician at the new clinic.

"At Tawam Hospital, we are committed to promoting social interaction and advocacy through parent involvement in schools and the community, to help raise awareness of the benefits of inclusion of people with Down syndrome into the larger community."

The new clinic will follow guidelines issued by the American Academy of Paediatrics.

According to the World Health Organisation, Down syndrome is present in one out of about 1,000 live births.

In the US alone, about 6,000 babies a year are born with the chromosomal abnormality, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, amounting to about one in every 700 births.

There are no statistics available for the UAE.

A 2007 study looking at more than 63,000 newborns in Dubai, between 1999 and 2003, estimated the incidence to be one in every 449 live births. Among Emiratis, this rate increased to one in 319.

Down syndrome, the risk of which increases with the age of the mother, causes mental retardation and physical problems due to the body producing an extra copy of chromosome 21.

Average life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome is somewhere between 50 and 60.

zalhassani@thenational.ae