Medical vulnerability of individuals with Down syndrome to severe COVID-19-data from the Trisomy 21 Research Society and the UK ISARIC4C survey

EClinicalMedicine. 2021 Mar;33:100769. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100769. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Abstract

Background: Health conditions, immune dysfunction, and premature aging associated with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome, DS) may impact the clinical course of COVID-19.

Methods: The T21RS COVID-19 Initiative launched an international survey for clinicians or caregivers on patients with COVID-19 and DS. Data collected between April and October 2020 (N=1046) were analysed and compared with the UK ISARIC4C survey of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with and without DS.

Findings: The mean age of COVID-19 patients with DS in the T21RS survey was 29 years (SD = 18). Similar to the general population, the most frequent signs and symptoms of COVID-19 were fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Joint/muscle pain and vomiting or nausea were less frequent (p < 0.01), whereas altered consciousness/confusion were more frequent (p < 0.01). Risk factors for hospitalization and mortality were similar to the general population with the addition of congenital heart defects as a risk factor for hospitalization. Mortality rates showed a rapid increase from age 40 and were higher in patients with DS (T21RS DS versus non-DS patients: risk ratio (RR) = 3.5 (95%-CI=2.6;4.4), ISARIC4C DS versus non-DS patients: RR = 2.9 (95%-CI=2.1;3.8)) even after adjusting for known risk factors for COVID-19 mortality.

Interpretation: Leading signs/symptoms of COVID-19 and risk factors for severe disease course are similar to the general population. However, individuals with DS present significantly higher rates of medical complications and mortality, especially from age 40.

Funding: Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, DSMIG-USA, GiGi's Playhouse, Jerome Lejeune Foundation, LuMind IDSC Foundation, The Matthew Foundation, NDSS, National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices.