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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why African Americans With Down's Syndrome Live Half as Long as Whites

African American Children With Down's Syndrome

Most folks think of Down's syndrome as just a "white man's disease", but the truth is that it can affect anyone. It does not discriminate. However, there is a huge racial gap when it comes to how long people with Down's syndrome live. For some unknown reason, whites on average live twice as long as blacks.

Where the racial disparity lies

Down's syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that results in mental retardation. The Centers For Disease Control reports that every year about 6,000 babies are born with Down's syndrome, which is about 1 in every 700 babies born. The life expectancy of babies with Down's syndrome is shorter than a normal life expectancy due to other health problems that often come with the disorder, such as heart defects. Older persons with the disorder also have increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Survival gap

But the CDC also reports that African-American infants born with Down's syndrome have a lower chance of surviving beyond the first year of life compared with white infants. The problem is they just don't know why. More research is needed to help uncover the reasons for this racial disparity. Poorer health care among blacks could be a contributing factor but does not fully explain the huge gap in survival rates between whites and blacks.

Although survival rates are increasing among children born with Down's syndrome, the CDC reports that the median death age for whites was 50 in 1997, 25 for blacks, and 11 for other races.

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