Objective: To assess the direct annual health care costs for children and adolescents with Down syndrome in Western Australia and to explore the variation in health care use including respite, according to age and disease profile.
Study design: Population-based data were derived from a cross-sectional questionnaire that was distributed to all families who had a child with Down syndrome as old as 25 years of age in Western Australia.
Results: Seventy-three percent of families (363/500) responded to the survey. Mean annual cost was $4209 Australian dollars ($4287 US dollars) for direct health care including hospital, medical, pharmaceutical, respite and therapy, with a median cost of $1701. Overall, costs decreased with age. The decline in costs was a result of decreasing use of hospital, medical, and therapy costs with age. Conversely, respite increased with age and also with dependency. Health care costs were greater in all age groups with increasing dependency and for an earlier or current diagnosis of congenital heart disease. Annual health care costs did not vary with parental income, including cost of respite.
Conclusions: Direct health care costs for children with Down syndrome decrease with age to approximate population costs, although costs of respite show an increasing trend.
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