Immune Challenges with Down Syndrome

Published on June 11, 2024

By Brooke Worzalla

Brooke Worzalla

Hello! I'm Brooke, a proud resident of the little town of Port Washington, Wisconsin. Together with my wonderful husband and our four amazing kiddos—three adventurous girls and one spirited boy, Jack—we make the most of every moment. We love camping under the stars, traveling to new destinations, and exploring the great outdoors. 

Editor Note: This is a guest post from Brooke Worzalla, who wanted to share her experience with immune challenges that a child with down syndrome faces. Below are her words, lightly edited for clarity. 

Jack surprised us with a birth diagnosis of Down Syndrome. In an instant, our world was flipped upside down.  What does the future hold for our sweet little surprise? How will his diagnosis impact his siblings?  

We had so many questions and so few answers. When we brought him home, he was greeted by 3 sisters who doted on him with endless love and affection. They didn’t see his disability. They only saw the cutest baby in the world, their little Jack Jack! It was then that I realized Jack was exactly where he needed to be to thrive. We immediately immersed ourselves in support groups and resources to understand how we could support Jack to be the best Jack he could be. 

In time, Jack has achieved every milestone on his own timeline. I see him working every day, tirelessly, to be able to keep up with his sisters and “run with the pack”! Jack loves to adventure and explore his world. His ability to draw people in and make them smile is unparalleled. He gives hugs to all and waves to everyone! If you are lucky enough to get a kiss blown your way, it will stay with you the whole day!  

What challenges does your family face with Jack? 

Jack is such a crazy little dude. He just turned 2-years old, and he is just like any other fun loving little 2-year old. We dubbed him the Man of Mischief because he has made it his mission to get into everything! The challenge with Jack is that he doesn’t understand consequences and has no fear of danger. A scary combination for a little adventurous guy.  

Our biggest challenge right now is providing him a safe space to explore independently. Our whole family is learning sign language and teaching Jack signs to help him to be able to communicate his needs more effectively.  

What have been some of the immunity challenges for your child (and therefore your family) that have come with Down Syndrome?  

While we are extremely lucky that Jack is not as medically complex as some of his peers, we quickly realized that he is more susceptible to all the germs. Due to his smaller adorable features, when he gets sick, he gets so much sicker than his siblings and it takes him much longer to recuperate. Simple colds seem to linger in his smaller passages.  

We have been searching for a natural immune support supplement to help keep Jack healthy which may minimize his exposure to antibiotics and more invasive medical intervention. We love Gaia Herbs Elderberry syrup. I have found that it helps Jack stay healthier longer by supporting his immune system.   

How has having a child with Down Syndrome affected your other children? 

Our family has been so blessed to welcome Jack into our lives. His sisters are fierce advocates for him. They brag about him to their friends and teachers endlessly. They celebrate his wins and cheer him on every step of the way. Jack has his very own cheering section. And they are the loudest, proudest cheering section a little guy could ask for.  

The more we talk about Jack and show that his disability does not define him, the more we can encourage acceptance for all children with disabilities.  

What are a few things you wish more people knew about having a child with Down Syndrome? 

Children with Down Syndrome are some of the sweetest, purest souls. Down Syndrome is something that my child has, but it does not define who he will be.  

It is a privilege and an honor to raise a child with Down Syndrome. To see them work so hard and see their pure joy is the most amazing thing to experience.  

A note from Gaia Herbs: 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Brooke for sharing her story with us. Being a wellness resource for individuals and families to harness their health is the root of our mission, and we’re honored to know that we’ve played some small part in supporting Brooke, Jack, and their family. If you have a story you’d like to share with us, please email and we’ll be in touch!