US study finds significantly high prevalence of diabetes in adults with learning disabilities


The healthcare needs of people with learning disabilities are well documented, we know they visit primary care professionals less often than would be expected and  receive fewer screening tests and fewer health investigations.

This U.S. study looked at the health status of ‘working-age adults with cognitive limitations’ and compared this with adults with no disability by investigating data from the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS)

They found those with cognitive limitations had significantly higher prevalence of diabetes than adults with no disability (19.4% vs. 3.8%,) and significantly higher prevalence of another six major chronic conditions.

They also found that a person with disability and diabetes was significantly more likely to have four or more chronic illnesses.

The study adds additional weight to the arguments for improved disease prevention strategies and better education for people with learning disabilities and health care providers.

Diabetes Among Adults With Cognitive Limitations Compared to Individuals With No Cognitive Disabilities, Reichard  A & Stolzle H in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49, 3, 141-154.

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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