People With Learning Disabilities Extremely Vulnerable To Ef
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People with learning disabilities with COVID-19 are five times more likely to be admitted to hospital and eight times more likely to die compared with the general population of England, a new study suggested. Risks were particularly high for those with severe to profound learning disabilities, Down's syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

To explore this further, a team of UK researchers set out to describe the risk of COVID-19 related hospital admissions and deaths among children and adults with learning disabilities in England compared with the general population. Their results are based on electronic health records for more than 17 million people registered with a general practice in England linked to hospital admission and mortality data.

Data for 14,312,023 adults and 2,627,018 children were analysed across both waves of the COVID-19 pandemic: wave 1; and wave 2. Among 90,307 adults on the learning disability register, 538 (0.6 per cent) had a covid-19 related hospital admission; there were 222 covid-19 related deaths and 602 non-COVID deaths.

Among adults not on the register, 29,781 had a covid-19 related hospital admission; there were 13,737 covid-19 related deaths and 69,837 non-COVID deaths. After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as age, sex, ethnicity, and geographical location, adults on the learning disability register had a 5-fold higher risk of covid-19 related hospital admission and an 8-fold higher risk of covid-19 related death than adults not on the register.

Rates were higher among those with severe to profound learning disabilities than those with milder learning disabilities, and among those in residential care. Similar patterns were seen for children, but the authors stress that absolute risks of COVID-19 hospital admission and death among children were small.

The findings also highlight gaps in learning disability registers, limiting the reach of the vaccination programme, prompting a call for greater efforts to update and maintain accurate registers so that all eligible individuals can benefit. Besides vaccination, efforts should continue to protect people with learning disability from covid-19 adverse outcomes, and more research on the excess covid-19 risks among people with Down's syndrome and cerebral palsy are needed, they conclude.