To compare the incidence of respiratory symptoms and short-term consequences between children with Down syndrome and children from the general population, we conducted a prospective parent-reported observational study. Children with Down syndrome (≤ 18 years) were included between March 2012 and June 2014. Caregivers received a baseline questionnaire with follow-up 1–2 years after inclusion. Caregivers received a weekly questionnaire about respiratory symptoms, fever, antibiotic prescriptions, doctor’s visits, and consequences for school and work attendance. Children with Down syndrome were compared to a cohort of the general population (“Kind en Ziek” study) with similar weekly questionnaires. A total of 9,011 childweeks were reported for 116 participants with Down syndrome (75% response rate). The frequency of respiratory symptoms was higher in children with Down syndrome than in children from the general population (30% vs 15.2%). In addition, symptoms subsided later (around 8 vs 5 years of age). The seasonal influence was limited, both in children with Down syndrome and children from the general population. Consequences of respiratory disease were significant in children with Down syndrome compared to children from the general population, with a higher rate of doctor’s visits (21.3% vs 11.8%), antibiotic prescriptions (47.8% vs 26.3%), and absenteeism from school (55.5% vs 25.4%) and work (parents, 9.4% vs 8.1%).
Conclusion: Children with Down syndrome have a higher frequency of respiratory symptoms and symptoms last until a later age, confirming the impression of professionals and caregivers. Individualized treatment plans might prevent unfavorable consequences of chronic recurrent respiratory disease in children with Down syndrome.
What is Known:
• Children with Down syndrome have an altered immune system and are prone to a more severe course of respiratory tract infections.
• The overall conception is that patients with Down syndrome suffer from respiratory tract infections more often.
What is New:
• Children with Down syndrome suffer from respiratory symptoms more frequently than children from the general population.
• The respiratory symptoms in children with Down syndrome subside at a later age compared to children from the general population.