People With Intellectual Disabilities Have Higher Chances Of Fracture

intellectual disabilities

The researchers at Oxford Health NHS Foundation and the University of Oxford found that people with intellectual disabilities are prone to fractures in contrast to people of the same age and gender without any intellectual disabilities.

They observed the rates of fractures at general practices or in hospital records, spanning over twenty years between 1998-2017. The research was led by Senior Clinical Researchers Valeria Frighi, Department of Psychiatry and the rate comparison was done between 43,000 individuals with learning disabilities and 215,000 without them throughout life.

The study was published in eClinicalMedicine. According to the results of the study, fracture rates were significantly higher in people with intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, it starts many years earlier than it is expected to.

The most affected bones make early onset osteoporosis the underlying factor for the increase in fracture rates. Moreover, the age bracket for hip fractures is at least fifteen to twenty-five years earlier in people who have intellectual disabilities. For example, a forty-year-old woman with learning disabilities has the same rate of hip fracture compared to a woman in her sixties. Similarly, in men, a forty-five-year-old man has the same rate of fractures as a seventy-year-old man without learning disabilities.

Margaret Smith. Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said,

We estimated that in 10,000 women over 50 years old with intellectual disability 53 would be expected to develop a hip fracture over one year compared to 23 in the general population. For men, over 50 years old these numbers are 38 and 10 respectively.

Hip fractures can cause permanent disabilities and premature death. Moreover, seeking appropriate care through NHS is also very difficult. However, despite the limitations, it can be managed if recognized timely and adequately.

Furthermore, the team is investigating the reason behind the higher rate of fractures in people with intellectual disabilities. It could be due to limited mobility leading to impaired bone mass, inactive lifestyle, tendency to fall, and medical conditions.

Valeria Frighi, lead author said,

The study has identified an important and currently unmet health need in the population with intellectual disabilities. GPs should consider addressing the issue of bone health during the yearly statutory health check offered to people with intellectual disabilities.


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