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Early death and causes of death of people with Down syndrome: A systematic review

O'Leary, Lisa; Hughes-McCormack, Laura; Dunn, Kirsty; Cooper, Sally-Ann


Laura Hughes-McCormack

Kirsty Dunn

Sally-Ann Cooper


Background: It is thought that people with Down syndrome die younger than the general population, but that survival rates are improving.
Methods: Five databases were searched for key words related to intellectual disabilities, Down syndrome, and mortality. Strict inclusion criteria were applied. Information from 34 selected studies was tabulated, extracted and synthesised.
Results: People with Down syndrome died about 28 years younger than the general population. Congenital heart anomalies, comorbidities, low birth-weight, and black and minority ethnicity influenced earlier age of death, as did younger maternal age and poorer parental education. Congenital heart anomalies and respiratory conditions were the leading causes of death, and more common than in the general population. Survival rates have improved over time, particularly for those with congenital heart anomalies.
Conclusions: People with Down syndrome are living longer but still die younger, of different causes than the general population. More robust comparative data is needed, and ethnic differences require further study.


O'Leary, L., Hughes-McCormack, L., Dunn, K., & Cooper, S. (2018). Early death and causes of death of people with Down syndrome: A systematic review. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 31(5), 687-708.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 26, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 24, 2018
Publication Date 2018-09
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2018
Publicly Available Date Mar 25, 2020
Journal Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Print ISSN 1360-2322
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 5
Pages 687-708
Keywords cause of death; health inequality; intellectual disability; life expectancy; mortality; systematic review
Public URL
Contract Date Feb 13, 2018


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