Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass associated with ageing. It is also a component of frailty syndrome.
The researchers in this Dutch study identified that this issue had been little studied in people with learning disabilities. They worked with 884 older people described as having borderline to profound learning disabilities, all aged 50 years and over to identify the prevalence of sarcopenia.
They carried out logistic regression analyses to identify associations of sarcopenia with characteristics of the people in the study, their mobility, physical activity, intake of energy and proteins, body mass index (BMI) and levels of CRP (C-reactive protein the levels of which in the blood might rise in response to inflammation), albumin and vitamin D in serum.
What they found was a prevalence of sarcopenia of 14.3% in total group. For those aged group 50–64, the prevalence was 12.7%.
In terms of the associations they looked for, Sarcopenia was positively associated with mobility impairment and inflammation and negatively with BMI.
Studies of prevalence of sarcopenia in healthy adults aged over 64 have found rates over over 20%, whereas this study found prevalence rates lower than this, but in a younger age group and that there were particular risk groups including those with low BMI or mobility impairment.
They suggest there is a need for further research to collect longitudinal data to further study the impact of sarcopenia on older adults with learning disabilities
Prevalence and associated factors of sarcopenia in older adults with intellectual disabilities, Bastiaanse L et al., in Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33, 6, 2004–2012