Down’s Syndrome – A Risk Factor for the New Flu?

I’ve spent some time looking at Spanish language reports describing patients who have died of the new H1N1. I’ve been struck by how often Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21) is listed among the underlying conditions in South America.

Here are a few examples (roughly translated to English):

From soitue.es actualidad:

The majority of the patients who died  [in Peru] were children, pregnant women, Down’s syndrome patients, obese or had hypertension.

From IPS:

A nine year old child with Down’s syndrome has died [in Columbia] with the new H1N1 flu.

From La Estrealla:

Enrique Femenias Davis, a 53 year old man with Down’s Syndrome, has died with the new H1N1 vius [in Chile].

Instances of deaths among individuals with Down’s syndrome have also been reported in the US, although not as frequently as in South America. However, this may be because US reports are less likely to note that an individual had Down’s syndrome.

These are just anecdotal reports. But there are enough them to wonder if Down’s syndrome isn’t more of risk than is currently appreciated.

Down’s syndrome patients suffer from a number of conditions which could put them at increased risk of dying from the new H1N1 virus. The anecdotal reports of deaths among Down’s syndrome patients in South America and the known risk factors of people with Down’s syndrome should prompt public health authorities to actively determine whether Down’s syndrome patients are at increased risk from the new H1N1. If so, parents and other caregivers should be given strong warnings about the danger.

School is about to start in the US. It is critical that parents be given accurate information about the risks. Perhaps, especially, parents of kids with Down’s syndrome.

[Edited to add: There are now many more reports of people with Down’s Syndrome dying of pandemic flu. You can find more discussion of this issue at PFI_Forum on the Down’s Syndrome thread.]

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