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England: children and adults with learning disabilities still dying prematurely

18 September 2020

People with learning disabilities in England are not only dying prematurely, but from treatable causes of death, reveals the latest annual report from the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (LeDeR) programme.

In the general population, 85% of deaths happen at, or after, the age of 65, but this is only the case for 37% of people with learning disabilities, showing they are less likely to survive to that age, stated the LeDeR programme report from the University of Bristol.

Treatable causes of death accounted for 403 per 100,000 deaths in people with learning disabilities, compared to 83 per 100,000 deaths in the general population, the report said.

Of the deaths notified to the LeDeR programme in 2019, two-fifths of adults and almost a quarter of children died from pneumonia. These figures are very similar to those published in the university’s two previous annual reports.

Professor Pauline Heslop, the LeDeR programme lead, said the findings were ‘concerning as they [pneumonia and aspiration pneumonia] are causes of death which could be preventable, as well as treatable.

‘The disparity between people with learning disabilities and the general population in relation to average age at death, causes of death, and avoidable causes of death remains substantial and urgent action is needed.’

The report presented findings from 3195 reviews of deaths of people with learning disabilities, with a focus on information about 2126 deaths reviewed.

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