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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001 Jun 8;50(22):463-5.

Racial disparities in median age at death of persons with Down syndrome--United States, 1968-1997.


Down syndrome (DS) is the most common identified cause of mental retardation in the United States (1). The prevalence (approximately one in 800 live-born infants) is similar among all racial groups (2). Survival for the first year of life for infants with DS has improved dramatically during the last 50 years, from <50% in a 1942-1952 birth cohort (3) to 91% in a 1980-1996 cohort (4). Most studies of survival in persons with DS have focused on white populations, and little information is available about possible disparities among racial groups. To investigate changes in the age at death among persons with DS by race, CDC analyzed data from multiple-cause mortality files (MCMF) for 1968-1997. This report summarizes the results of the analysis, which indicate that the median age at death of persons with DS increased substantially during this period, but this increase was much greater for whites than for blacks or other races. Identification of the causes for this racial disparity may permit development of strategies to improve the survival of persons with DS, especially those who are black or of other racial groups.

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