Incidence, survival, and mortality in Down syndrome in Denmark

Am J Med Genet Suppl. 1990;7:75-8. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320370714.


The incidence of Down syndrome (DS) has been studied intensively for the two periods 1960-1972 and 1980-1985. The age distribution of birth-giving mothers has changed to older age at child birth from the first to the second period. Non-disjunction studies were carried out in 328 families. Most cases were first maternal meiotic division failures (43%). Nearly 12% were paternal meiotic failures, half of them in first meiosis and half in second. Both newborn infants and fetuses were studied. There was an excess of males, especially among newborn DS children, which was related to a failure at paternal first meiosis. A positive sex ratio was found in all newborn infants as well as in free trisomics as in those with de novo translocations. Survival was studied in the cohort of 278 infants born 1980 to 1985. The highest death-rate occurred between 22 days to 1 year (10.4%), 30 times more than the death probability in the Danish population. There was a significant difference between DS cases with congenital heart defect and those without. The probability of infants without heart disease of reaching the first year was 93.1% and the age of 6 years 88.0%. The probability of survival of children with congenital heart defect was 71.7% and 45.2%, respectively, reflecting also the increasing number of infants born prematurely with low birth weight or small-for-date infants. The predominant heart problems were atrio-ventricular canal defects. Infections and malformations added to the high mortality rate. Three cases of leukemia were significantly more than expected.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Down Syndrome / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Sex Ratio
  • Survival Rate