Why do people with down’s syndrome have a lower life expectancy than people who don’t?

Medically Reviewed by Checkmark Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sravanthi Sunkaraneni
People with down syndrome now have a nearly 60-year life expectancy, up from 12 years in 1949. However, it stays low since a person with down syndrome is more likely to develop various diseases and may have congenital abnormalities that shorten their lives. However, in such circumstances, mobility or feeding difficulties, as well as the prevalence of immune-related illnesses, are better predictors of life expectancy.

Although the life expectancy of people with down’s syndrome has dramatically increased over the years, the life expectancy is still low as compared to people without down’s syndrome because a person with down’s syndrome is at risk of many diseases and congenital abnormalities which affect their longevity.

Also, a person with down’s syndrome has lower immunity, and therefore, the prevalence of immune-related diseases is higher in down’s syndrome than in the general population. Hence, people with DS tend to have lower life expectancy.

Research states, “expectations for the life course of individuals with down’s syndrome (DS) have changed, with life expectancy estimates increasing from 12 years in 1949 to nearly 60 years of age today. Along with this longer life expectancy comes a larger population of adults with DS who display premature age-related changes in their health. There is thus a need to provide specialised health care to this ageing population of adults with DS who are at high risk for some conditions and at lower risk for others”.

Another study published in the American Journal on Mental Retardation states, “a lack of mobility or feeding skills was a better predictor of an early death than were medical problems associated with congenital heart disease. Life expectancy estimates of those who lacked mobility or eating skills were poor compared with people with down’s syndrome who did not have these problems regardless of the presence of heart disease”.

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Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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