Determining the amount, timing and causes of mortality among infants with Down syndrome

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2011 Jan;55(1):85-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01349.x. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Objective: To examine the amount, timing and causes/correlates of infant mortality among newborns with Down syndrome.

Methods: Using the Tennessee Department of Health Birth, Hospital Discharge and Death records, infants were identified who were born with Down syndrome from 1990 to 2006. Those who died during the first year were separated into three groups (first day death, neonatal mortality, post-neonatal mortality) and data from the Birth and Death records were used to compare the three death groups and the survival group on correlates of mortality.

Results: Of 1305 infants born in Tennessee with Down syndrome from 1990 to 2006, 97 died within the first year, for a mortality rate of 74 per 1000. Most Down syndrome infant deaths occurred during the post-neonatal period (56%), although many occurred during the first day (27%). Newborns who died during the first day had significantly lower birthweight, 5-min Apgar scores and gestational lengths, whereas those who died in the post-neonatal period had significantly more heart-related causes of death (all Ps < 0.001). No associations were found in this sample between increased infant mortality and maternal age, education, race, marital status or familial urban residence.

Conclusions: Infants with Down syndrome experience high rates of mortality occurring at three distinct times during the first year. These groupings are tied to specific, different causes of death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Apgar Score
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Down Syndrome / mortality*
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Tennessee