Purpose – People with Down's syndrome are at increased risk of developing early onset Alzheimer's disease. It has been recommended that all adults with Down's syndrome receive baseline neuropsychological testing for dementia. In certain areas prospective screening of people with Down's syndrome takes place to ensure the early diagnosis of the condition. However, little has been published on the value of this type of screening. The purpose of this paper is to report on a prospective screening programme and asks whether the programme is effective in identifying dementia‐related changes in people with Down's syndrome and whether the current screening intervals are appropriate. Design/methodology/approach – All adults with Down's syndrome in Plymouth (UK) are identified and offered a comprehensive test battery at baseline at the age of 20 and then have testing biennially from 40 to 50 and annually after 50. All individuals diagnosed with dementia between 2001 and 2013 were identified and their case notes examined. The symptoms at the time of diagnosis were identified and whether these symptoms had been identified through the screening programme or by other routes were recorded. Prevalence data and age at diagnosis were also recorded. Findings – In total, 26 people were diagnosed with dementia during the study period. Of these, the diagnosis of dementia followed concerns being identified during the routine screening programme in 54 per cent of cases. In the younger age group (age 40‐49) 63 per cent of people were identified through the screening programme. At the time of diagnosis a mean of 5.5 areas of concern were in evidence. Research limitations/implications – Limited by small sample size, however service development not original research. Implications for the use of prospective dementia screening in people with Down's syndrome. Practical implications – Implications for how services choose to run their Down's syndrome and dementia screening programmes, including the frequency of screening. Originality/value – The paper adds to a growing evidence base around the value of prospective dementia screening in people with Down's syndrome. It is also one of a few studies exploring the frequency of screening. Additionally, it adds further data about prevalence of dementia in people with Down's syndrome.
Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 26, 2014
Keywords: Diagnosis; Life expectancy; Down's syndrome; Alzheimer's dementia; Prospective screening programme; Neuropsychological