Nicola Hart, our Speech and Language Consultant and Member and Support Team Leader, was fortunate to be able to attend the pre-conference Health Symposium which took place as part of the World Down Syndrome Congress in Glasgow.
Nicola listened to speakers from the UK and USA, and participated in discussions with health professionals from around the world.
The main topics were: Coeliac Disease in children (Dr Peter Gillett), Sleep Disordered Breathing in children (Dr Catherine Hill), Health Screening in Adults (Dr Brian Chicoine), and Mental Health in Adults (Dr Anna Ebensen & Dr George Capone).
One of the key messages from the day was the impact of physical health on all aspects of life, and the importance of both promoting effective screening programmes and ensuring that possible conditions linked to Down syndrome are well understood by families and professionals.
Nicola found the presentation by Dr George Capone and colleagues particularly interesting. They found a very high incidence of sleep apnoea in a group of adults with Down syndrome who were presenting with mental health issues such as mood disorder or regression. We all know that if we sleep poorly we are less able to function effectively, but the high incidence of sleep apnoea in adults with Down syndrome and the link between this and mental health is a message that needs to be shared.
One major advantage of attending these events is the opportunity to meet, share information and learn from organisations in other countries who are working with people who have Down syndrome and their families. Two members of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association made time after the Congress to spend a few days in Ireland, visiting our National Office and Field of Dreams in Cork. It was interesting to meet and hear about some of the materials and programmes which are used in New Zealand and to share some of the materials we have developed in Ireland, so thanks to Zandra Vaccarino and Christel van Baalen (pictured above, with Nicola) for visiting. Nicola looks forward to continuing to share information and resources.