Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mass. General and MassGeneral Hospital for Children launch new Down syndrome program

Specialized clinics to serve patients from infancy to adulthood

Dr. Brian Skotko with Kayla Flinkstrom, 12.

BOSTON – Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children have launched one of the only comprehensive adult and pediatric Down syndrome programs in the world, offering multiple clinics each week tailored to meet the unique medical and psychosocial needs of patients of all ages.

With a goal of creating an easier transition from pediatric to adult specialists as patients age, the day-long clinics are designed for four different age groups, says Brian Skotko, MD, MPP, program co-director and medical geneticist. The Infant and Toddler Clinic, for patients from birth to 5 years old, focuses on educating the family and supporting early development. The Child Clinic focuses on maximizing health care and success in school for patients ages 5 to 13. The Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic for people ages 13 to 21 provides support and education as patients transition into adulthood and begin taking greater responsibility for their own care. The Adult Clinic focuses on maintaining health for those 21 years and older and encourages them to become involved within their communities.

“By seeing patients from birth to old age, we will also be able to establish a research center of excellence, dedicated to advancing our understanding of the medical conditions associated with the extra chromosome,” Skotko says.

Allie Schwartz, MD, program co-director, says the program is also unique in that the clinics take place in the same location and patients will be greeted by Ben Majewski, a self-advocate resource specialist who has Down syndrome. “In addition to medical care, we are planning to become a leader in medical education, training the next generation of leaders in the care of people with Down syndrome,” Schwartz says.

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About the Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital (, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $750 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine. In July 2012, MGH moved into the number one spot on the 2012-13 U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."

Kory Zhao, 617-726-0274,

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