Low Covid infection rates among adults with intellectual disabilities, study finds

ireland
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Digital Desk Staff

Two thirds of a group of Irish adults with intellectual disabilities (IDs) have been tested for Covid-19, yet only 11 received positive results, according to a study by Trinity College Dublin.

No Covid-related death was recorded among the group of 710 people with IDs over the age of 40, reporting an overall Covid positivity rate of 2.5 per cent, lower than the national average of 3.4 per cent.

Infection rates of 4.6 per cent among participants in residential care were also much lower than incidences of infection reported internationally for general nursing home populations.

Many of the adults would be considered high-risk for Covid-19, as the study shows a high percentage of those involved had pre-existing conditions which have been associated with poorer outcomes for the virus.

52 per cent, or 371 of the adults had a history of cardiovascular disease, while 66 per cent had a history of being overweight or obese.

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A high number of them also reported having a history of psychiatric or neurological conditions, such as epilepsy (29.5 per cent) and dementia (4.1 per cent).

More than half of the participants also indicated they are experiencing increased levels of stress or anxiety due to the pandemic, citing the inability to do usual activities, or see family and friends as the main reasons for their unease.

Principal investigator, Prof Mary McCarron, said that the impact restrictions are having on people with IDs must be considered.

“While we are very thankful that the numbers who tested positive for Covid-19 have been so small, with no reported deaths in this study, we must consider the effect that restrictions have had on people ageing with an intellectual disability.

“It is undoubtedly a good news story that many services and families reacted so rapidly to keep people safe. It is also very positive that over half did state that they found positive aspects to the change in circumstances.

“It is worrying, however, to hear of the stress and burden experienced by people ageing with an intellectual disability.”

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