This type of disease linked to higher COVID-19 death risk

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In a new study, researchers found that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to die from COVID-19 than those without IDD.

The disparity is likely related to a higher prevalence of comorbid diseases among those with IDD, and/or a higher percentage of people with IDD are living in congregate residential settings.

The research was done by a team from Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University

The team tested 30,282 people who were identified as COVID-19 positive in the TriNetX COVID-19 Research Network Platform.

They found among ages 0-17, for every 100 individuals with COVID-19, 1.6 with IDD died and less than one without IDD died.

Among ages 18-74, for every 100 individuals with COVID-19, 4.5 with IDD died compared to 2.7 without IDD.

Rates were similar for those 75 and over—for every 100 individuals with COVID-19, 21.1 with IDD died and 20.7 without IDD died.

The team says that among those ages 18-74, if 100,000 individuals with IDD contract COVID-19, they would expect 4,500 to die. Comparatively, among 100,000 individuals without IDD, they would expect 2,700 to die.

The researchers also found that individuals with IDD had a higher prevalence of comorbid circulatory, respiratory, and endocrine diseases across all age groups.

While they could not test causality in this data, it is possible this partly explains the differences they found in case-fatality rates.

Some of this difference may also be due to the higher percentage of individuals with IDD who reside in congregate settings—a characteristic the researchers could not account for in the study but are continuing to examine.

The researchers say that more attention is needed to this vulnerable health population in order to ensure their safety and well-being during this pandemic, including careful attention to the impact of public policies and funding streams on the ability of residential service providers to guarantee quality care during this time.

One author of the study is Dr. Margaret Turk, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The study is published in the Disability and Health Journal.

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