UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) has opened one of the few clinics in the nation dedicated to providing services to adult patients with Down Syndrome.
Because of improvements in diagnosis, treatment and management of the condition while young, Down Syndrome patients are now routinely living into adulthood, and have the same risks for adult diseases as the rest of the population.
“Children's hospitals, pediatricians and our medical system have done such a wonderful job in caring for children with Down Syndrome that many are now living into their 40's, 50's or more,” said clinic director Edward J. Lose, M.D., assistant professor of genetics at UAB. “Our clinic provides services related to both their Down Syndrome, but also for general adult conditions they may be facing.”
Lose says conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes are among the conditions adult Down patients now face, along with a need for basic primary care. And these adults still need care targeted specifically at complications arising from their Down Syndrome.
“Our clinic provides an array of services necessary to manage adult Down Syndrome,” said Lose, “as well as providing primary care for anything from serious illness to a bout with the flu.”
Lose says the problem for Down patients in finding a primary care physician is more acute in rural areas than in metropolitan communities such as Birmingham.
“Many adult Down patients do receive outstanding primary care from local physicians in the greater Birmingham area,” he said. “For those patients, our clinic is designed to simply help treat facets of their Down Syndrome. But for those without a primary care physician, we can turn to the UAB Department of Family and Community Medicine to provide those services.”
The clinic offers services from a number of health disciplines, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, psychology, social work, genetics and audiology. Lose says he hopes to add financial planning services in the near future.
Lose says the clinic, which now meets two days per month, will see patients from Alabama and surrounding states. The UAB Departments of Genetics, Pediatrics (General Pediatrics and Child Neurology) and Family and Community Medicine, along with the Division of Preventive Medicine, have collaborated to establish the clinic. The clinic is funded by a grant from the Health Services Foundation.
Down Syndrome is one of the most common genetic conditions, affecting more than 350,000 people in the United States.