Counting Down syndrome Americans

Michael Cook
April 29, 2017
Reproduced with Permission

Down syndrome is the leading cause of intellectual disability in the United States. But how many Americans have Down syndrome? There is no clear answer to that question, as the US does not record this information systematically.

Brian Skotko, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues have done a statistical analysis of Down syndrome Americans in the journal Genetics in Medicine and come up with some very interesting statistics.

The number has quadrupled in the last 60 years because people with DS have a much higher life expectancy.

"We estimate that the number of people with DS living in the United States has grown from 49,923 in 1950 to 206,366 in 2010, which includes 138,019 non-Hispanic whites, 27,141 non-Hispanic blacks, 32,933 Hispanics, 6,747 Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 1,527 American Indians/American Natives. Population prevalence of DS in the United States, as of 2010, was estimated at 6.7 per 10,000 inhabitants (or 1 in 1,499)."

The impact of abortion is substantial:

"In the absence of elective terminations, these predicted numbers would have been 245,981, including 167,992 NHW, 31,836 NHB, 33,620 HIS, 10,716 AS/PI, and 1,817 AI/AN. This corresponds with reductions in population prevalence related to elective terminations, which are estimated to be 19% for all people with DS, 19% for NHW, 16% for NHB, 13% for HIS, 47% for AS/PI, and 16% for AI/AN."

The impact of abortion is even higher in the UK:

"In the United States, in 1995, there were an estimated 8% fewer people with DS than there would have been without elective terminations, and this value increased to approximately 19% in 2010. In the United Kingdom, the corresponding estimated values were 10 and 26%, respectively."

Down syndrome people are living much longer. In the US, Down syndrome is no longer a childhood disability:

"According to our model, the mean and median age of death also increased, and even more rapidly, from an estimated 3 and 0 years, respectively, in 1950 to 12 and 2 years in 1970 to 35 and 38 years in 1990 to 48 and 54 years in 2010."