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

  • Type:


  • Date:

    24 March 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services

  • Funders:

    Scottish Government; Scottish Government via the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory


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),



cause of death; health inequality; intellectual disability; life expectancy; mortality; systematic review

Monthly Views:

Available Documents