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Alzheimer’s Disease in People With Down Syndrome


Many but not all people who have Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease when they get older.

Down syndrome is a condition wherein a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21, which carries a gene that produces a specific protein called amyloid precursor protein. Too much of this protein leads to a buildup of protein clumps in the brain called beta-amyloid plaques. The presence of these plaques is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diagnosis of Down syndrome is done through chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis. These are specialist services done as screening tests when the mother is still pregnant with her baby. After birth, the initial diagnosis is then often based on the baby’s appearance.

By age 40, most people with Down syndrome have beta-amyloid plaques along with other protein deposits which cause problems in how brain cells function. At the same time, these protein deposits also increase the person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that 50% or more of people with Down syndrome will develop dementia due to Alzheimer’s as they age. However, this type of Alzheimer’s in people diagnosed with Down syndrome is not genetically passed down to a child.

While clinical trials are still ongoing to know why some people with Down syndrome develop dementia while others do not, it is best to avail of our home and community-based services in Minnesota for support.

Treatments and management plans are being developed for these two conditions but for immediate assistance at home, call GIIR Home LLC today. We are a licensed provider of general healthcare in Minneapolis, MN that attends to seniors, people with disabilities, and those who need care in their mental and behavioral health.

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