Authors of a new peer-reviewed paper have discovered that COVID was the leading cause of death for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in 2020.
The study, “COVID-19 Mortality Burden and Comorbidity Patterns Among Decedents with and without Intellectual and Developmental Disability in the US,” looked at 2020 death certificate data to examine death patterns for people with or without IDD. They found that those without an IDD, COVID was the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer. But for those with IDD, COVID was the number one cause of death.
IDD are conditions characterized by life-long impairments in mobility, language, learning, self-care, and independent living. Examples include Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disabilities.
Syracuse University Associate Professor Scott Landes and lead author of the paper, published by the Disability and Health Journal, said that this study had confirmed earlier predictions that COVID-19 would be deadlier among people with IDD.
“Even when we adjusted for age, sex, and racial-ethnic minority status, we found that COVID-19 was far deadlier for those with IDD than those without,” said Landes. “Furthermore, people with IDD were dying at much younger ages.”
The research team for the study includes Landes, a faculty associate for the Aging Studies Institute at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Julia Finan, a graduate student in the sociology department at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University; and Dr. Margaret Turk, Distinguished Service Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y.
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