Publication Date



Down syndrome, epidemiology, comorbidities, family medicine, population health


Purpose: Given the current life expectancy and number of individuals living with Down syndrome (DS), it is important to learn common occurrences of disease conditions across the developmental lifespan. This study analyzed data from a large cohort of individuals with DS in an effort to better understand these disease conditions, inform future screening practices, tailor medical care guidelines, and improve utilization of health care resources.

Methods: This retrospective, descriptive study incorporated up to 28 years of data, compiled from 6078 individuals with DS and 30,326 controls matched on age and sex. Data were abstracted from electronic medical records within a large Midwestern health system.

Results: In general, individuals with DS experienced higher prevalence of testicular cancer, leukemias, moyamoya disease, mental health conditions, bronchitis and pneumonia, gastrointestinal conditions, thyroid disorder, neurological conditions, atlantoaxial subluxation, osteoporosis, dysphagia, diseases of the eyes/adnexa and of the ears/mastoid process, and sleep apnea, relative to matched controls. Individuals with DS experienced lower prevalence of solid tumors, heart disease conditions, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, influenza, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, and diabetes. Similar rates of prevalence were seen for lymphomas, skin melanomas, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, hepatitis, cellulitis, and osteoarthritis.

Conclusions: While it is challenging to draw a widespread conclusion about comorbidities in individuals with Down syndrome, it is safe to conclude that care for individuals with DS should not automatically mirror screening, prevention, or treatment guidelines for the general U.S. population. Rather, care for those with DS should reflect the unique needs and common comorbidities of this population.




November 11th, 2020


December 18th, 2020


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