Prevention from infection with Covid-19 is particularly important for adults with Down syndrome

A new study was published on the 21st October which looked at whether having Down syndrome is a risk factor for death from Covid-19.

The researchers, based in Oxford, carried out a thorough analysis of data from 8.26 million adults in the UK as part of a project commissioned by the UK government to predict who might be at risk from Covid-19. The data included age, sex, ethnicity, alcohol intake, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), medication use and a range of preexisting conditions. 4,053 people in this data group had Down syndrome.

The researchers looked at two main outcomes: hospitalisation with Covid-19 and death from Covid-19.

The researchers concluded that adults who have Down syndrome were around four times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 and ten times more likely to die as a result of Covid-19.

This was after adjusting for other risk factors such as heart and lung diseases, high BMI, living in a care home and having dementia, which are already associated with an increased risk from Covid-19.

Having Down syndrome appears to be a significant risk factor with an increased risk of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 compared to people without Down syndrome.

As a result of this study, adults with Down syndrome have been added to the group of people who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ across the UK. This means that they have been classed as having significantly higher risk from Covid-19 than people without Down syndrome. The decision has been agreed across all four nations of the UK by their Chief Medical Officers.

This focus of this study was to predict which groups of adults would have the highest risk of being severely ill if they caught Covid-19. It does not tell us whether adults with Down syndrome have a higher risk of contracting the virus in the first place.

In order to catch Covid 19, you need to be exposed to the virus. This means that the actual risk depends on other factors such as:

  • How many people have Covid 19 in your community?
  • How many people are you in regular contact with?
  • Whether you are able to reduce your risk by wearing a mask, limiting the length of time you spend with others, and making sure that you meet in a well ventilated space or outside.


Taking all possible measures to prevent infection is particularly important for adults with Down syndrome, as they are more likely to be severely affected by Covid-19.


Original research articles:


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