Abstract / Description of output
Design Retrospective cohort; individual record-linked data between Scotland’s 2011 Census and 9.5 years of National Records for Scotland death certification data.
Setting General community.
Participants Children and young people with intellectual disabilities living in Scotland aged 5–24 years, and an age-matched comparison group.
Main outcome measures Deaths up to 2020: age of death, age-standardised mortality ratios (age-SMRs); causes of death including cause-specific age-SMRs/sex-SMRs; and avoidable deaths.
Results Death occurred in 260/7247 (3.6%) children/young people with intellectual disabilities (crude mortality rate=388/100 000 person-years) and 528/156 439 (0.3%) children/young people without intellectual disabilities (crude mortality rate=36/100 000 person-years). SMRs for children/young people with versus those without intellectual disabilities were 10.7 for all causes (95% CI 9.47 to 12.1), 5.17 for avoidable death (95% CI 4.19 to 6.37), 2.3 for preventable death (95% CI 1.6 to 3.2) and 16.1 for treatable death (95% CI 12.5 to 20.8). SMRs were highest for children (27.4, 95% CI 20.6 to 36.3) aged 5–9 years, and lowest for young people (6.6, 95% CI 5.1 to 8.6) aged 20–24 years. SMRs were higher in more affluent neighbourhoods. Crude mortality incidences were higher for the children/young people with intellectual disabilities for most International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision chapters. The most common underlying avoidable causes of mortality for children/young people with intellectual disabilities were epilepsy, aspiration/reflux/choking and respiratory infection, and for children/young people without intellectual disabilities were suicide, accidental drug-related deaths and car accidents.
Conclusion Children with intellectual disabilities had significantly higher rates of all-cause, avoidable, treatable and preventable mortality than their peers. The largest differences were for treatable mortality, particularly at ages 5–9 years. Interventions to improve healthcare to reduce treatable mortality should be a priority for children/young people with intellectual disabilities. Examples include improved epilepsy management and risk assessments, and coordinated multidisciplinary actions to reduce aspiration/reflux/choking and respiratory infection. This is necessary across all neighbourhoods.