A four year prospective study of age-related cognitive change in adults with Down's syndrome

C. Oliver*, L. Crayton, A. Holland, S. Hall, J. Bradbury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Background. While neuropathological studies indicate a high risk for Alzheimer's disease in adults with Down's syndrome, neuropsychological studies suggest a lower prevalence of dementia. In this study, cognitive deterioration in adults with Down's syndrome was examined prospectively over 4 years to establish rates and profiles of cognitive deterioration. Methods. Fifty-seven people with Down's syndrome aged 30 years or older were assessed using a battery of neuropsychological tests on five occasions across 50 months. Assessments of domains of cognitive function known to change with the onset of Alzheimer related dementia were employed. These included tests of learning, memory, orientation, agnosia, apraxia and aphasia. The individual growth trajectory methodology was used to analyse change over time. Results. Severe cognitive deterioration, such as acquired, apraxia and agnosia, was evident in 28.3% of those aged over 30 and a higher prevalence of these impairments was associated with older age. The rate of cognitive deterioration also increased with age and degree of pre-existing cognitive impairment. Additionally, deterioration in memory, learning and orientation preceded the acquisition of aphasia, agnosia and apraxia. Conclusions. The prevalence of cognitive impairments consistent with the presence of Alzheimer's disease is lower than that suggested by neuropathological studies. The pattern of the acquisition of cognitive impairments in adults with Down's syndrome is similar to that seen in individuals with Alzheimer's disease who do not have Down's syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-1377
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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