The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging parents to get their children up to date on their diagnosis, saying a new vaccine for the devastating neurological disorder known as Down syndrome could help reduce the number of cases in the U.S. by up to half.
“The goal of our new vaccination schedule is to reduce the prevalence of children with Down syndrome by at least half by 2019,” said Dr. David A. Freedman, who directs the AAP’s Division of Vaccine Safety and Immunization Practices.
Freedman said that would mean an estimated 1.5 million fewer cases of Down syndrome and 2.5 percent fewer deaths.
While there is no evidence to suggest that the vaccine would significantly reduce the risk of serious side effects or the death of the child, it could reduce the amount of time children have to go through the rigors of getting tested for the disease, Freedman said.
The AAP is also urging parents who want to protect their children from the serious side effect of the vaccine to get tested and to follow a routine schedule of vaccinations, such as getting the shot once a month or once a week.
For now, the AAP is encouraging parents to continue to monitor their children closely as they receive their vaccines.
With more than 70 million people affected by the condition in the United States, there are more than 3 million children with the rare disorder, and the number is expected to grow.
Many of those affected live in rural areas where the disease is common, and many have difficulty accessing health care or other basic services.
The AAP said the vaccination schedule could help bring down the number in 2019 by about 30 percent.
More than 90 percent of those children with Downs syndrome live in states that do not have statewide vaccination schedules, and a statewide statewide vaccine is needed to meet the needs of more than one-third of those in the country, Freedmant said.