A study from the University of Medicine and Health Sciences RCSI has provided insight into changes in heart function and blood pressure in the lungs of babies born with Down syndrome.
Heart and lung conditions are common in babies born with Down syndrome and can contribute to the need for intensive care and longer hospital stays for babies with Down syndrome compared to babies without Down syndrome. The results of this work will help clinicians better assess one in 600 babies who are born with Down syndrome in Ireland each year.
Posted in the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography, the study is the first of its kind to follow babies with Down syndrome during the first two years of life to study heart function and increased blood pressure in the blood vessels of their lungs. Seventy babies with Down syndrome were followed in this study through a collaboration between three neonatal intensive care units in Dublin, Ireland.
This research found that babies with Down syndrome had changes in heart function and blood pressure in the lungs during the first two years of life. those who did not during the study period. This is an important finding that indicates that all babies with Down syndrome should have their heart function and blood pressure in the lungs monitored during childhood.
Professor Afif EL-Khuffash, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at RCSI and Consultant Neonatologist at Rotunda Hospital said: “Until now there has been a lack of evidence to explain why babies with Down syndrome experience these problems. . The results of this study show us that babies with Down syndrome experience changes in heart function that lead to increased blood pressure in the lungs.”
The study’s first author, Dr Aisling Smith, a registrar specializing in neonatology who conducted the research as part of her PhD at RCSI, said: “This study will help clinicians better understand the mechanisms behind these problems and emphasizes the importance of monitoring cardiac function. in babies with Down syndrome over time.”
About half of babies born with Down syndrome also have congenital heart disease. In this study, 48 babies with Down syndrome had congenital heart disease and 22 did not. The results of babies with Down’s syndrome were compared with those of 60 babies without Down’s syndrome (controls). All babies enrolled in the study underwent a heart scan (echocardiogram) to assess heart function at six months, one year and two years.
The research was carried out by RCSI in collaboration with Rotunda, Coombe and National Maternity Hospitals in Dublin; the Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Children’s Health at Crumlin Hospital, Dublin; Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Trinity College Dublin, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
The study was funded by the Health Research Board Ireland and the National Children’s Research Centre.
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