King's College publish the LeDeR annual report into the lives and deaths of people with a learning disability and autistic people

On Thursday 14 July 2022, King's College published the annual report: Learning from Lives and Deaths People with a Learning Disability and autistic people (LeDeR). The report found that there were no excess deaths* for children with a learning disability in 2021. Deaths actually decreased by about 3% compared to 2018-2019. 

* Over and above what would be normally expected.

Key findings include:

  • Of the 3304 deaths reported, 208 deaths were of children aged 4-17. 
  • The highest percentage of children who died in childhood were of White ethnicity (67%).
  • For children, the median age at death in 2021 was 12, which is an increase of 1 year since 2020.
  • The 5 most common leading causes of death for 4 to 17 year olds reported to LeDeR between 2018 and 2021 include: congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities; cerebral palsy and other paralytic syndromes; influenza and pneumonia; epilepsy and status epilepticus; and cancers.
  • COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for people with a learning disability in 2021.
  • 28% of those who were unvaccinated died from COVID-19 compared to 3.4% of those who were vaccinated.

This report always makes for difficult reading, highlighting as it does the inequalities and too often earlier deaths of those with a learning disability and or autism. We were however, heartened to see that this year’s report highlighted Annual Health Checks as good practice that may have an impact on addressing this inequality.

We have been working with NHSE to explore some of the sexual and reproductive health issues experienced by women and girls, aged 14-25, with a learning disability and/or autism, as part of our wider work around health inequalities. Based on research and conversations with experts in women and girl’s health and people with lived experience, we have made a series of recommendations for NHSE on how to improve annual health checks to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of this cohort. We hope that these improvements will lessen gendered health inequalities and encourage more young people to take up their annual health checks.

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director, Council for Disabled Children

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