Children with Down syndrome (DS) use hospital services more often than children without DS, but data on racial/ethnic variations are limited. This study generated population-based estimates of hospital use and cost to 3 years of age by race/ethnicity among children with DS in Massachusetts using birth certificates linked to birth defects registry and hospital discharge data from 1999 to 2004. Hospital use (≥ 1 post-birth hospitalization and median days hospitalized birth and post-birth) and reasons for hospitalization were compared across maternal race/ethnicity using relative risk (RR) and Wilcoxon rank sums tests, as appropriate. Costs were calculated in 2011 United States dollars. Greater hospital use was observed among children with DS with Hispanic vs. Non-Hispanic White (NHW) mothers (post-birth hospitalization: RR 1.4; median days hospitalized: 20.0 vs. 11.0, respectively). Children with DS and congenital heart defects of Non-Hispanic Black (NHB) mothers had significantly greater median days hospitalized than their NHW counterparts (24.0 vs. 16.0, respectively). Respiratory diagnoses were listed more often among children with Hispanic vs. NHW mothers (50.0% vs. 29.1%, respectively), and NHBs had more cardiac diagnoses (34.1% vs. 21.5%, respectively). The mean total hospital cost was nine times higher among children with DS ($40,075) than among children without DS ($4053), and total costs attributable to DS were almost $18 million. Median costs were $22,781 for Hispanics, $18,495 for NHBs, and $13,947 for NHWs. Public health interventions should address the higher rates of hospital use and hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiac diseases among racial/ethnic minority children with DS in Massachusetts.
Keywords: Congenital heart defects; Down syndrome; Hospital cost; Hospital use; Racial/ethnic disparities.
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