- the eyes have an upward and outward slant
- there is a fold of skin on the inner side of the eye (epicanthal fold)
- the eye slit is narrow and short
- small, white patches can be seen on the edge of the iris
- the face has a flat appearance
- the head is smaller than average
- the soft spots on the head (fontanels) are larger than normal because the baby is growing more slowly
- the ears are smaller and lower-set
- the mouth is small and the lips are thin which leads to the tongue sticking out because the inside of the mouth is smaller
- the neck appears slightly short and loose folds of skin are seen at the back and sides (these go away as the baby grows)
- the legs and arms are short in relation to the body
- the hands are broad and flat with short fingers, the little finger slants inward, and there is a single crease across the palm
- the feet are broad with short toes and there is a larger space than normal between the big toe and the other toes
- there is poor muscle tone (hypotonia) and loose-jointedness (hyperflexibility)
- reflexes tend to be weaker and the cry is weak
Kamdyn had/has some of these, and others she did not. She does not have a small head, loose skin behind the neck, broad hands, short fingers, bent pinkie, crease on the palm (simian crease), broad feet, short toes, or extra space between the big toe and other toes (sandal gap). I do notice now that her shirts always seem shorter, and I have to roll them up, but this was not noticeable as a newborn. And I tell you all of the features that she did not have to demonstrate the point that not all babies/children/adults with Down syndrome have exactly the same features. They don't all have the same personality either.
They also do not have all of the health issues that you will read about if you research Down syndrome. Some babies with Down syndrome will have some of those health issues, others will have nothing that isn't common for any baby to have. Every child, even ones with Down syndrome, are unique.
Ok, so which features did Kamdyn have as a newborn?
* Her soft spots (fontanels) are larger. At almost 2, Kamdyn still has the soft spot on the top of her head, but she is also around the size of a 9-12 month old. It will close as she grows.
*Kamdyn's ears are smaller and lower-set. I do not think this is noticeable now, but when Kamdyn was first born, this was the first feature that I noticed. As a newborn, the skin on the top of her ears was also slightly turned down.
The following picture was taken when she was about 7 months old, and the skin at the top isn't turned down anymore.
If you look at where your ears are on your face, you will notice that your ears are even with your eyes. This is why glasses fit easily on your face. A person with Down syndrome, however, will often have ears that are set slightly lower on their head, like Kamdyn has.
* Her tongue stuck out more than I remembered my other babies.
The picture above was the first picture we ever took of Kamdyn.
*Kamdyn's eyes have an upward and outward slant. And are absolutely beautiful, if you ask me.
*The bridge of Kamdyn's nose is flat.
*Kamdyn had a weak cry, but so did my first daughter. They both sounded like kittens when they cried.
*Kamdyn also had trouble maintaining her temperature and sugar levels right after birth. Very common in newborns.
*Kamdyn was jaundiced for a couple of weeks after she was born. This is also very common in newborns. Almost all newborns have some degree of jaundice, but Kamdyn's was a little more, which required billi lights for about 36 hours.
*Kamdyn had a heart murmur.
*Spots on the iris of the eye, Brushfield spots. I do not fully understand this one, but I think it is the reason Kamdyn's eyes look kind of marble-y and absolutely breathtaking if you ask me.
Those are some common physical features. If you suspect that your baby has Down syndrome, the only way to find out for sure is a blood test called a karyotype. Most of the time, the doctors and nurses in the hospital will suggest this test if they suspect the baby has Down syndrome. I have heard of situations, where a baby will go months before being diagnosed, but this doesn't usually happen.
If your baby does have Down syndrome, first, breathe. It will be ok. Give yourself the time you need to accept the diagnosis. Look around on the Internet for the hundreds of great blogs that show what day-to-day life is like. I guarantee you will find a bunch of people who are head-over-heels in love with their child with Down syndrome, just like they are with their other kids, and this diagnosis is not the end of their life and happiness, but only the beginning.
Congratulations and welcome.