People with intellectual disability: what do we know about adulthood and life expectancy?

Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2013;18(1):6-16. doi: 10.1002/ddrr.1123.


Increases in the life expectancy of people with Intellectual Disability have followed similar trends to those found in the general population. With the exception of people with severe and multiple disabilities or Down syndrome, the life expectancy of this group now closely approximates with that of the general population. Middle and old age, which until 30 years ago were not recognized in this population, are now important parts of the life course of these individuals. Older adults with Intellectual Disabilities form a small, but significant and growing proportion of older people in the community. How these persons grow older and how symptoms and complications of the underlying cause of the Intellectual Disability will influence their life expectancy is of the utmost importance.

Keywords: Angelman syndrome; Cornelia de Lange syndrome; Down syndrome; Prader-Willi syndrome; Rett syndrome; Sanfilippo syndrome; Williams Beuren syndrome; adulthood; cerebral palsy; fragile X syndrome; intellectual disability; life expectancy; mental retardation; morbidity; mortality; phenylketonuria; tuberous sclerosis complex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • De Lange Syndrome
  • Developmental Disabilities*
  • Down Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis III
  • Phenylketonurias
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Tuberous Sclerosis
  • Williams Syndrome