Thursday, November 19, 2009

Help improve Down syndrome article

Just sharing this article that my hubby saw today while "working"....

From Fox News

Study Points to Possible Reversal of Down Syndrome

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Increasing the levels of a message-carrying chemical in the brain may help prevent some of the memory deficits in Down syndrome that hinder learning and make it hard for the brain to develop normally, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

They said mice with a rodent version of Down syndrome that were injected with drugs to increase levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine — which nerve cells use to communicate — showed improvements in their thinking ability.

The finding points to a new way of trying to improve some of the deficits seen in Down syndrome, which affects 5,000 newborns in the United States each year.

"If you intervene early enough, you will be able to help kids with Down syndrome to collect and modulate information," said Dr Ahmad Salehi of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, whose study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"Theoretically, that could lead to an improvement in cognitive functions in these kids," Salehi, who worked on the study while at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Down syndrome occurs when a person has an extra copy of chromosome 21. At birth, children with Down syndrome are not developmentally delayed, but memory deficits linked with the disorder hinder normal brain development.

Salehi and colleagues simulated this in mice that had an extra copy of chromosome 16 that gave them mental disabilities that resemble problems seen in people with Down syndrome.

In the study, the researchers found that the mice with Down syndrome-like dysfunction had lower amounts of norepinephrine in the brain than normal mice. And this problem appeared to occur in a part of the brain called the locus coeruleus.

When this part of the brain broke down, the mice failed to exhibit normal behaviors. When placed in a strange cage, the genetically engineered mice did not build nests, something normal mice do.

But giving these mice drugs that boost levels of norepinephrine appeared to help. Within a few hours of getting the drugs, the mice built nests that were on par with those of normal mice.

Salehi said he was surprised to see the drug work so fast, but the team noted that the effects did not last long.

Some drugs already on the market for depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder target norepinephrine. Salehi said he hopes the findings will lead to new research on these drugs in people with Down syndrome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reece's Rainbow --Down syndrome adoption

It seems like everyone in the blog world is adopting. Ok, well not everyone but lots of people have or in the process of adopting a child. Most are through Reece's Rainbow. A great non-profit organization, started in 2004, to help with international adoption of children with Down syndrome. They also host "other angels" which are children that have other special needs instead of Down syndrome. It promotes awareness, funds and most importantly matches these kids with their forever families.

Right now they have their Christmas Angel Tree Project going on. It goes through the end of year. The goal is find families for the kids but also to help rise each child's grant to at least $1000 each. For $35 you help support a child and get a Christmas tree ornament with that child's picture on it.

I love reading about these families and their journey to adopt their new child or children. I encourage you go check out Reece's Rainbow. It has several links to adopting families, available children, and tons of useful information.

I have fallen in love with 2 little boys that are soon facing institutional life. They are listed under the most "at risk" category for boys. Right now they are already 5 years old.

They are Joseph

and Charlie

They are so cute. They are only about a month apart in age and are at the same orphanage. I'm guessing within the next year they will be transferred to a mental institution if not much sooner. Usually kids 'age-out' of the baby homes (orphange) between 4-6 years old. It depends on many things including the country and how much money the baby home has. Of course I am hoping and praying these little boys find forever families. Joseph has around a $1,400 grant including his Christmas tree grant and other donations. Charlie has around $1,000.

I would love for these cuties to belong to me but my husband thinks I'm crazy. I have their pictures hanging on my fridge.

Life in a mental institution in their country is no life at all. They are old buildings with very little funding to help run them. Some kids are tied to beds, they are fed very little and receive no physical love or even touch. Most of these cute little kids that go to the institution die within the first year. I can't even imagine a life like that. It's no life at all. It's all because they were born with an extra chromosome. The familes that give these kids up, saying they died at birth, have no idea what they are missing. Unconditional love for one.

Please help these kids anyway you can. Pray, donate, spread the word, or even better, adopt these cutie pies!

Reece's Rainbow

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Halloween and pumpkins

Here is a post about halloween... only a few weeks late!

The kids love decorating pumpkins, that is until they have to clean the "guts" out! We stick the 'faces' on them and then closer to Halloween we cut out jack-o-lanterns.

Sam and her pumpkin

Max and his pumpkin

Joe and his pumpkin

Ike and his pumpkin

We carved them out Friday night. I expected me ending up doing all the work but they did pretty good this year. I did hear lots of complaints about how it's gross and dirty, etc.. I told them it had to be done if they wanted to cut a face into the pumpkin. Joe did great cleaning, digging right in. Sam also did great, although I got to hear about it all. Max, well, he did OK. He never digs his hand right in. Even this year he was scrapping seeds out with a spoon making sure his hand did not touch any of that pumpkin. Ike-- I did all of his. he helped some, but not much.

Joe digging out pumpkin guts

And to not bore you with all the details of pumpkin carving, here are the finished products.

Sam with her pumpkin

Max and his pumpkin.
"I dare you to get a picture of me without my tongue!!"
Seriously, I have about 8 or more of this pose, all with Max sticking out his tongue.

But I finally got one!
He did his own cutting this year. (explains the crazy face!) Pretty good I think.

Joe and his pumpkin

Ike and his pumpkin.
(Ike with a ring toss ring on his head!-- It's all the rage, you know!)

Finally Halloween night. We had 2 skeletons, 1 cat and 1 ghost.

After we got back the kids ate as much candy as possible.

Max passed out with a candy coma!!

Notice he picked out all the "good" candy. Smartiees, starburst and he already ate all the twizzlers. That is about all he will eat from the candy. Picky kid!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Walk formally known as Buddy...

This year our Buddy Walk was not called The Buddy Walk. It was called Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk.... Step Up Walk for short. I was told that there were around 10 walks called Step Up Walk this year. Basically because the Down Syndrome Society was wanting a lot of money this year so the local groups decided they wanted to keep more money in their local areas and somewhat joined together.

The Kansas City walk is one of the largest Down syndrome walks in the country. This year we had over 7,000 people walk/attend and so far over $370,000 raised!! This means that the KC walk was the biggest and most money raised in the country this year! WoW!!

The walk was at the end of October. October 24. It was rather chilly in the morning but warmed up nicely. The walk is from 9 until 1. There is lots of fun things for kids (bounce houses, climbing rock wall, ballon guys, face painting, a carnival ride or 2, etc...) and of course lunch.

We had our parents up for the walk and then my brother and his family came. Then from School there was our K teacher (Max and Sam both had her) and her husband, Max's old resource teacher and her 2 kids, Max's para and her family. His Pre-k teacher was signed up but had something come up and the last minute so she didn't make it. She came last year though!

It was a great day and here are a few photos of the day...
Max getting a free ride from daddy.

Sam decided she needed a free ride too. Chris, Max's para, carried Sam! muscle woman... I don't even do this for Sam! As you can tell, Sam enjoyed it!

Me and Ike... while he was awake.

He slept most the time in the wagon.

Joe figured he would try this too... He wasn't really sleeping though.

Hope everyone had a great October .... Down Syndrome Awareness month.