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Standardized test battery to aid those with Down syndrome
Date:1/12/2009

ctioning to low-functioning. And there is every reason to assume the same in Down syndrome.

"We're trying to figure out how to most accurately assess as early as possible, within the first year or two of life. What is the likely trajectory. The kids at age 1 you could already predict by looking at their genetic makeup and a few cognitive tests that we're trying to work out that would be sensitive to cognitive function in the first year or two of life."

An accurate assessment of a child's learning trajectory would enable parents and medical and education specialists time to develop appropriate strategies for learning and possible drug therapies.

"The earlier we can make the prediction, the better advice we can give to parents about what they need to do to optimize their kids' development," Nadel said.

The key to finding out where people with Down syndrome are cognitively, he said, is through the use of standardized tests.

"We're working on developing a standardized battery for 8 to 18 year olds, the adolescent range that is easiest to develop tests that have adequate controls for in the developing population. Once we have that figured out for that age range, we want to move in both directions."

That includes tests for much younger children, but also for those in the 25-35 age range. Until a few decades ago, many with Down syndrome died in their 30s and 40s, usually from heart problems. Medical advances have helped stave off heart-related deaths, but it exposed another health risk for this group.

"By age 35, and certainly by age 40, just about everyone with Down syndrome has characteristic neuropathology associated with Alzheimer's," Nadel said. "Every individual with Down syndrome who has died past that age all have this pathology.

"What we also know is that for individuals with Down syndrome who are alive past age 35, about 35 to 40 percent actually seem to have early Alzheimer's. They all have
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Contact: Lynn Nadel
nadel@email.arizona.edu
520-621-7447
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert

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