Overall, the death rate among all patients with Covid-19 was 0.6 percent. In contrast, 1.22% of people with developmental disabilities and Covid-19 died, as did 3.37% of people with intellectual disabilities.
In addition to the high risk for people with developmental disabilities, lung cancer and intellectual disabilities, people with spina bifida and other nervous system abnormalities were twice as likely to die from Covid-19. The same was true for patients with leukemia and lymphoma.
Chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer, mobility disorders, epilepsy, heart failure, spinal cord injury, and liver disease were also associated with an increased risk of death. .
The report is not the first to highlight the unique risks facing people with developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities in the pandemic. Scientists at Syracuse University reported in June that people with disabilities who lived in group homes in New York state had much higher rates of Covid-19, compared to other residents of the state , and that their risk of dying was also significantly higher.
The population is particularly vulnerable for several reasons. Many live in group homes or receive care from helpers, therapists or teachers who must maintain close physical proximity to help them. Between 16% and 20% live in collective environments, compared to just 6% of older people, said Scott Landes, associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University and author of this study.
Many are medically fragile at first, with high rates of underlying health problems, especially breathing problems. This makes them vulnerable to pneumonia, which increases the risk of serious illness if they are infected with Covid.
People with Down syndrome are more likely to have congenital heart defects; they may have less muscle tone around the neck and a wider tongue, which increases the risk of frequent choking and developing lung infections.