HealthDay News — The risks for hospital admission and death from COVID-19 may be higher for people with learning disabilities, according to a study published online July 14 in The BMJ.
Elizabeth J. Williamson, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues obtained patient-level data for more than 17 million people registered with a general practice in England to examine the association between learning disability and risk for hospital admission and death from COVID-19. Adults (aged 16 to 105 years) and children (younger than 16 years) from two cohorts were included (wave 1: registered as of March 1, 2020, and followed until Aug. 31, 2020; wave 2: registered Sept. 1, 2020, and followed until Feb. 8, 2021).
The researchers found that after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, and geographic location, for wave 1, the hazard ratios for adults on the learning disability register were 5.3 and 8.2 for COVID-19-related hospital admission and COVID-19-related death, respectively. Similar estimates were produced for wave 2. The investigators observed stronger associations for individuals classified as having a severe-to-profound learning disability and those in residential care. Increased hazards for both events were seen in association with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Patterns for increased risk were similar in children with learning disabilities, but event rates were low.
“Prompt access to COVID-19 testing and health care is warranted for this group, and prioritization for COVID-19 vaccination and other targeted preventive measures should be considered,” the authors write.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.