Objective: To calculate a reliable estimate of the population prevalence of Down syndrome in the US.
Study design: The annual number of births of infants with Down syndrome were estimated by applying published birth prevalence rates of Down syndrome by maternal age to US data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the years for which births by maternal age were available (1940-2008). Death certificate data for persons with Down syndrome were available for the years 1968-2007. We estimated the number of people with Down syndrome on January 1, 2008, using a life table approach based on proportions of deaths by age. Monte Carlo sampling was used to create 90% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for our estimates.
Results: We estimated the January 1, 2008, population prevalence of Down syndrome as approximately 250700 (90% UI, 185900-321700) based on proportions of deaths by age from the most recent 2 years (2006-2007) of death certificate data. This estimate corresponds to a prevalence of 8.27 people with Down syndrome per 10000 population (90% UI, 6.14-10.62).
Conclusion: Our estimate of Down syndrome prevalence is roughly 25%-40% lower than estimates based solely on current birth prevalence. The results presented here can be considered a starting point for facilitating policy and services planning for persons with Down syndrome.
Keywords: CDC; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; UI; Uncertainty interval.
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