In a most comprehensive study of its kind, the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust researchers found a substantially higher rate of fractures in people with intellectual disability compared with people of the same age and gender without an intellectual disability.
The researchers, led by Senior Clinical Researcher Valeria Frighi at the Department of Psychiatry, looked at rates of fracture recorded either in general practice or in hospital records, over a 20-year period, 1998-2017. They compared the rates between 43,000 individuals with intellectual disability and 215,000 without, throughout the life course.
The study found HIGHER fracture rates of fracture in those with intellectual disability. Fracture incidence starts to rise as people get older. However, the researchers point out that fracture incidence starts for those with intellectual disability earlier than expected.
In the study, the researchers said that the types of bones most affected by the fractures points to early onset osteoporosis as the underlying basis for the increased rates. Hip fracture rates are particularly raised. Comparable rates of hip fracture occur approximately 15 to 25 years earlier in people with intellectual disability. For example, at age 45, women with intellectual disability have a rate of hip fracture similar to 60-year-old women without intellectual disability. Forty-five-year-old men with intellectual disability have similar rates of hip fracture to 70-year-old men without intellectual disability.
Ongoing research by the same team is investigating the reasons for such high rate of fracture in people with intellectual disabilities. These could include impaired bone mass due to limitations in mobility and sedentary lifestyle, a tendency to fall, and accompanying medical conditions.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), and endorsed by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, the Royal Mencap Society and the Down’s Syndrome Association.