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Dementia is strongly linked to Down syndrome and contributes to early death in people with Down syndrome
  1. Gareth S Parsons
  1. School of Care Sciences, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gareth S Parsons, School of Care Sciences, University of South Wales, Pontypridd CF371DL, UK; gareth.parsons{at}

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Commentary on: Hithersay R, Startin CM, Hamburg S, et al. Association of Dementia With Mortality Among Adults With Down Syndrome Older Than 35 Years. JAMA Neurol 2018. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.3616. [Epub ahead of print 19 Nov 2018]. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.3616

Implications for practice and research

  • Care for older adults with Down syndrome should be organised with the exceptional risk of developing dementia in mind as this will improve their medical outcomes.

  • There is an urgent need for research into effective treatments for dementia in adults with Down syndrome to prevent or delay the onset of dementia.


Advances in care for people with Down syndrome have greatly increased their lifespan.1 However, with this comes the devastating risk of developing dementia, which contributes to early mortality when compared with the general population.2Common health problems associated with Down syndrome are intellectual disability and congenital heart defects, but in older people, Down syndrome produces …

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  • Competing interests Lead applicant for a research grant to Marie Curie on preparedness of people with Down syndrome to deal with the end-of-life care implications of a diagnosis with dementia.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.