Down Syndrome Abstract of the Month: Jan. 1998

Longevity of a woman with Down syndrome: a case study

Chicoine B; McGuire D
Ment Retard 1997 Dec;35(6):477-9
Author Affiliation: Adult Down Syndrome Center of Lutheran General Hospital, Glenview, IL USA.


A case of a woman who is among the longest surviving people with Down syndrome was described. The life expectancy of persons with Down syndrome has increased more than six-fold to 56 years since the turn of the century. The literature regarding life expectancy for persons with Down syndrome was reviewed, and the implications regarding Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease were discussed.

My comment: The woman presented in this paper was born on Nov. 3, 1910 and died at the age of 85 years, outliving all her five siblings. She had never been institutionalized. At the time of her death, her only medical problems were a moderate hearing loss, hypothyroidism, cataracts in both eyes and osteoporosis. Her death came during a hospitalization for surgery for a fractured hip. At the age of 83, a karyotype showed 75% trisomy 21, 25% normal cells.

Most significantly, to quote the authors: "...she was reported to have no decline in mental function and performance of activities of daily living. As indicated, we interviewed several people who knew her and reviewed videotape taken of her several years prior. There was no obvious decline noted." This is important as this helps dispel the myth that all adults with DS will eventually become demented from Alzheimer's disease.

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