Risk factors for mortality in Down syndrome

Hardeep Uppal, PhD
ACALM Study Unit in collaboration with
Aston Medical School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK

The aim of the research was to highlight the needs of people with Down Syndrome (DS). In particular, to highlight the amount of medical illnesses that they have and to try to see if there were any specific conditions that could lead to an earlier death.

What did you do in your research?
The researchers looked at 558 people (274 female; average age 42.14 years) with DS and followed them for approximately 13 years (in the UK). We used data supplied by hospitals to identify what conditions they had and how they affected their lifespan. We compared this to 5,580 people without DS of a similar age and gender.

What did you find out?
Across the 13 years, 151 persons with DS (27.1%) deceased, as opposed to 352 (6.31%) of persons without DS. Slightly more than half of the deceased individuals with DS were female, as opposed to 36% of those without DS. The mean age for those with DS who were deceased was lower than those without DS. Respiratory failure, dementia, and pneumonia were the most likely illnesses to cause death in people with DS. In the comparison group, respiratory failure, dementia, and renal failure were the most likely illnesses to cause death. When these illnesses were statistically analyzed, we found heart failure, respiratory failure, pneumonia and epilepsy as the diseases that most contributed to in-hospital death in the DS population.

What are the take-home messages?
People with DS have more medical illnesses. These need to be thought about when treating people with DS, particularly if they are in hospital.

To learn more about these findings contact Hardeep Uppal.

Full Journal Article
Uppal, H., Chandran, S., & Potluri, R. (2015). Risk factors for mortality in Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.