Are the cognitive functions of children with Down syndrome related to their participation?


    The authors thank Dr Hagit Magen for her statistical advice during the preparation of the manuscript.

Prof Asher Ornoy at the Laboratory of Teratology, Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, PO Box 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel. E-mail:


Aim  There is a lack of investigation into the functional developmental profile of children with Down syndrome. On the basis of current international health paradigms, the purpose of this study was to assess the developmental profile of these children.

Method  Sixty children (33 males, 27 females) with Down syndrome (age range 6–16y; mean age 9y 3mo, SD 28.8mo), who had received standard, holistic, early intervention, were assessed. Of these, 42 (70%) had congenital anomalies, 12 had severe congenital heart defects. Participants were assessed on measures of cognitive function (Beery–Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual–Motor Integration; Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale) and participation (Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales).

Results  No difference was found on any measure on the basis of severity of congenital anomaly. Results showed improvements in age-related body function and correlations between specific body functions and participation. No decline in IQ was found with age, and significant correlations between IQ and all other measures were noted. Although sex differences were found in the body functions of short-term memory and motor function, no difference in measures of activity performance and participation was found.

Interpretation  Our findings emphasize the need for paediatric Down syndrome intervention to encourage improved body functions while emphasizing the acquisition of functional skills that enable enhanced participation in age-appropriate activities.