Down syndrome linked to 10 times higher COVID-19 death risk, UK study finds

Adults with Down syndrome are 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 and about five times more likely to be hospitalized from the virus, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Researchers analyzed data on more than 8 million adults, of which 4,053 had Down syndrome. Researchers evaluated whether health issues associated with Down syndrome including immune dysfunction, congenital heart disease and pulmonary pathology may make the condition a risk factor for severe COVID-19 cases. 

Out of the 4,053 adults with Down syndrome, 68 died between Jan. 24 and June 30. About 40 percent of deaths were tied to COVID-19, 25 percent were due to pneumonia or pneumonitis and 35 percent were from other causes. A total of 41,685 adults without Down syndrome died during the study period, with 20.3 percent of deaths related to COVID-19. 

The findings may inform policy and motivate further investigation, as the CDC does not currently list Down syndrome as a risk factor for COVID-19, the study authors said. 

"Novel evidence that specific conditions may confer elevated risk should be used by public health organizations, policymakers and healthcare workers to strategically protect vulnerable individuals," they concluded.

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