Our family has participated in our local turkey trot for the last couple of years. In 2014, it was a virtual BLIZZARD on Thanksgiving Day. This past Thanksgiving, the weather was spectacular!
Not to sound cliche, but I cannot stress enough the importance of a good diet and regular exercise for our children with Down Syndrome. Is Sophie active? Is the Pope Catholic??!! A typical week of activities will include a golf lesson with Dad at the golf dome, and swimming. In addition, Sophie completes a daily calisthenics routine and 20 minutes on the treadmill. Wanna guess what her favorite form of exercise is? Zumba! When we lived in York, Pennsylvania, we went to an awesome studio called Body Rhythms Life Fitness. Sophie loved the kids’ zumba classes and went to them twice weekly. I sure wish we could find a kids zumba class around here!
“Two dates a day keep the doctor away!”
One hallmark “symptom” of Down Syndrome is low muscle tone. Hypotonia is typically manifest throughout the entire body in people with this disability. Arms and legs may be floppy especially during the first few weeks after birth as physiological flexion dissipates. In the absence of feeding strategies aimed at tongue retraction, the tongue begins to protrude. Even smooth muscle surrounding the lumen of the small intestines is hypotonic. Thus peristalsis is weaker than in typically developing children, and constipation develops. In fact, constipation may be the first obvious sign of an underlying issue in some newborns whose condition was not diagnosed in utero. Sounds like I’m painting a bleak picture. Fortunately, much can be done to improve and even reverse hypotonia.
Let me save you some grief about this constipation issue. Sophie struggled with constipation for almost a decade. We tried everything: enemas, daily Miralax in her milk, Milk of Magnesia, homeopathic remedies, and many, many other approaches. In the absence of other underlying causes (e.g. hypothyroidism, Hirschsprung’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac disease), constipation can be resolved. After over a decade of stressing about it, I have FINALLY been able to control Sophie’s constipation with this “triple crown” approach: adequate hydration, diet/exercise, and 2 dates a day! No kidding!! Dried fruit has been such a saving grace in our household. Sophie loves dried cranberries, raisins, and even prunes. Her favorites are dates. Two dates a day keep the doctor away!
Clinical Practice Guidelines for Children With Down Syndrome From Birth to 12 Years