Thyroid Disease

Ten to 40% of persons with Down syndrome have hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism is slightly more common than it is in the general population.

Symptoms may be subtle, and may be confused with features associated with Down syndrome. Lethargy, cognitive impairments, and skin dryness, for example, are often seen in teens with Down syndrome even when thyroid function is normal. Nurses working with teens who have hypothyroidism can help set up a reminder system to ensure that thyroid supplements are taken as directed and that annual thyroid function tests are completed.

When working with a client who has Down syndrome, nurses should assume that cognitive impairments and a sedentary lifestyle are a normal and unavoidable part of the syndrome.