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What distinguishing characteristics do babies with Down syndrome have?

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Characteristics of babies with Down syndrome include a flattened nasal bridge, small and low-set ears, and slanted eyes with spots on the irises, reports WebMD. They may have high narrow palates and tongues that slightly protrude. They may also be short, with short and stocky necks, arms and legs.

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Babies with Down syndrome may have a crease or groove across their palms and between their first and second toes, notes the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. They may have poor muscle tone and develop more slowly than other children. They may take longer to master sitting, standing and walking. Their attention spans may be short, and they may be slow to develop language and speech. Although Down syndrome babies commonly have some degree of cognitive impairment, it is rarely severe.

Although screening and diagnostic tests can usually determine Down syndrome during pregnancy, the tests cannot assess how severely the condition impacts the baby, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After birth, doctors confirm the diagnosis with other tests. Because nearly half of Down syndrome babies have heart defects, they should receive echocardiograms to check the condition of their hearts. Other common birth defects of Down syndrome babies include eye diseases, ear infections, hearing loss and obstructive sleep apnea.

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