Coronavirus advice for people with Down syndrome

Coronavirus advice for people with Down syndrome thumbnail.

In this article we have pulled together some information to address some of the questions we have been getting from our members on Coronavirus and the impact on someone with Down syndrome. 

Essentially the advice for our members with Down syndrome is to take the same precautions as other members of the community but to consider if there are any other health conditions that may increase the risk to the individual if they were to contract coronavirus.   If people are concerned, they are advised to contact their GPs or Specialists for advice.

Statement on Coronavirus from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation has put out a statement on Coronavirus. The key points of statement include:

Are all people with Down syndrome “High Risk”?

While there is no evidence about how people with Down syndrome are affected by coronavirus versus the typical population, certain groups of people may be identified as “high risk” in terms of how coronavirus can negatively affect their health:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like: Heart disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Lung disease, and/or Respiratory Difficulties

We do know that people with Down syndrome are more likely than typical people to have such chronic medical conditions listed above, and as such, for individuals considered “high risk” the recommendation include:

  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

Extra Precautions to Consider Based on Research

There is research from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that points to people with Down syndrome being more likely to develop complications due to respiratory viral infections including H1N1 (a sub-type of Influenza A) and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus), and increased rates of hospitalisation.

Given this research, if you as an individual with Down syndrome, your child with Down syndrome, or your dependent adult with Down syndrome has a respiratory infection, is just recovering from a respiratory infection, has chronic respiratory issues or pulmonary viral infections, you may want to consider taking the same precautions that would apply to someone who is “high risk.”

Podcast from the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group (USA)

The Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group (USA)have released a Podcast about Coronavirus in Down Syndrome that discusses these elevated risks, and re-enforces the above points.  The podcast is recorded by a paediatrician Dr Vellody interviewing a Dr Nowalk, an Infectious Disease Physician with an interest (and a son) with DS.

The podcast can be found on Apple/Google podcast apps or on Spotify by searching “Down Syndrome Center Podcast.”  You can also find this episode at

Other useful information:

The World Health Organisation has released detailed advice for practicing basic protective measures against the coronavirus here.

Some other links that may be useful:
The Growing Space Easy English Coronavirus information
Every Australian Counts Coronavirus Emergency information for NDIS participants and families