Questions answered about COVID-19 and individuals with Down syndrome

Posted at 8:13 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 10:55:21-04

Many caregivers of people with Down syndrome have plenty of questions about COVID-19 and how it will affect those individuals.

Down syndrome continues to be the most common chromosomal condition. One in 700 babies are born with it in the United States.

Doctor Nicole Baumer with Boston Children's Hospital, who has a sister with Down syndrome, is heavily involved in educating those caretakers and helped put together a Q&A and information sheet on COVID-19 and Down syndrome.

First and foremost, most people with Down syndrome are at higher risk because of underlying medical conditions, she said. Other factors come into play too.

"It may be harder for someone with Down syndrome to understand what social distancing means," Baumer said. "They may have trouble understanding how to wash their hands for the right amount of time, avoid handshakes and avoid other people."

She said this is why it's even more important to be vigilant if you're a caretaker of someone with Down syndrome.

Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, also helped put the COVID-19 Q&A together. She has a daughter with Down syndrome.

"We are looking at COVID-19 just like the typical person who is high risk," Whitten said. "It starts with self-isolating and being extra vigilant."

To read up on the full Q&A, visit the Global Down Syndrome website.