Intellectual disabilities are at higher risk of dying earlier in life than the general population for a variety of medical and institutional reasons. A new study by Jefferson Health examined how the COVID-19 pandemic affected this group, which accounts for 1-3% of the US population.Study published today New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) catalyst, Intellectual disability was found to be second only to the elderly as a risk factor for death from COVID-19.
“The chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher in people with intellectual disabilities than in people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or lung disease,” said lead author Jonathan Gleason, MD, and James D. Mary Jodanella Chief said. Jefferson Health Quality Officer. “This is a deep recognition that has not been well-regarded by the healthcare community.”
The authors examined the 64 million patient records from 547 medical institutions from January 2019 to November 2020 to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with intellectual disabilities. They identified variables such as COVID-19, intellectual disability, and other health conditions, as well as demographic factors such as age.
The results show that people with intellectual disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, about 2.7 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 5.9 times more likely to die from the infection than the general population. it was done.
“Our failure to protect these highly vulnerable individuals is tragic,” said co-author Wendyros, a pediatrician and director of the Development and Behavior Center for Autism and Neurodiversity at Jefferson Health. The doctor of medicine says. “We believe that if we can design a system that is safe and accessible to people with intellectual disabilities, it will benefit us all.”
The authors write that patients with intellectual disabilities may be less able to adhere to strategies that reduce the risk of infection, such as masking and social distance. In addition, researchers have shown that these patients are likely to have additional health conditions that contribute to the more severe course of COVID-19 disease. The results of the study highlight how these problems are exacerbated in this population.
“We need to understand more about what’s happening to these patients,” says Dr. Gleason. “I believe these patients and their caregivers should prioritize vaccination and medical services. Why did this vulnerable population fail, and by them during and in the future of this health crisis? You should think about ways to provide good service, “he said. Gleason says. “Even before the pandemic, people with intellectual disabilities were in poor health. We need to do better.”
The author proposes important action steps that require immediate response. “First, people with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers should be prioritized for vaccines by organizations that set federal guidelines, including the CDC,” says Dr. Gleason. “Second, federal and state health regulators need to measure the access, quality, and safety of this population to track their ability to improve their health outcomes. Finally, The United States needs to redesign its care model for individuals with intellectual disabilities. “
“As an organization dedicated to advocating for the health of one of the most marginalized people, people with intellectual disabilities (IDs), we need to prioritize people with IDs as a high-risk group during this pandemic. MPH, Dr. Alicia Bazzano, Chief Health Officer of Special Olympics, said: “Most health authorities have IDs that have obtained COVID-19. We are not aware that people with them are at a much higher risk of dying. Special Olympics is grateful to the Jefferson team for spotlighting these devastating numbers. “
Materials provided by Thomas Jefferson University.. Note: The content can be edited in style and length.