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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
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T: 9841 444

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Mainstream research that might be important for people with Down syndrome and their families

While we are very interested in research specifically related to people with Down syndrome, other more general studies can also provide very valuable information about particular aspects of the impacts of Down syndrome.  Two such studies have been released in the last few days:

Babies learning more than one language
The New York Times reported about new research about babies being exposed to bilingual environments, and how their brains adapt.  In a multicultural community like ours, questions are often asked about whether children with Down syndrome can develop language skills in more than language. The growing body of specific research and reports from families indicates that not only is it possible but desirable, for both languistic and cultural considerations.  The work reported by the NY Times adds information about how babies manage two languages that seems to support that bilingualism should be available to children with Down syndrome too.

New York Times article: Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language

(The article was republished by the Sydney Morning Herald today, too, under the headline Wired for sound: bilingual parents can shape baby's brain).  This research was done at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

A summary of research into bilingualism and children with Down syndrome, Raising children with Down syndrome to speak more than one language, was published in the December 2010 issue of Voice.

Link between Alzheimer's disease and disrupted sleep?
The second study is about links between Alzheimer disease and disrupted sleep patterns - both of which are more common in older people with Down syndrome.  The Adult Down Syndrome Clinic in Chicago commented on Facebook:
Here is an interesting article on sleep deprivation being associated with Alzheimer disease. How is that related to Down syndrome? We don't know. There is no information yet but we know that people with DS are susceptible to AD at a younger age. We know that people with DS have more sleep problems. We also know that people with DS have more disrupted sleep due to sleep apnea. Will be interesting to watch this one as more information becomes available. 

This research was done at the Washington  University School of Medicine.

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