The screen test
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The screen test

Donna Paxton Community learning disability charge nurse, Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust
Karen McKenzie Chartered clinical psychologist, Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust
Karen Dickson Community learning disability nurse, Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust

Donna Paxton and her colleagues uncover some interesting findings from a screening programme for adults with down syndrome

It is widely acknowledged that individuals with a learning disability may have increased health needs compared to the general population and that these needs are not adequately met (Kerr et al 1996). For people with Down Syndrome some of these health needs are known to be associated with the condition and include cardiac problems, thyroid disorders and sensory impairments as well as an increased risk of developing early onset Alzheimer’s disease (Hutchinson 1999). Clinical guidelines have been developed which identify the health areas that need to be included when screening children and adults with Down Syndrome (Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group 1999). Unfortunately, early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult, as many of the health problems to which people with Down Syndrome are susceptible–such as those outlined above–can mimic or be superimposed on the decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Dalton et al 1993). Conversely, deterioration that is actually due to treatable causes may be assumed to be as a result of Alzheimer’s disease and the client may fail to receive appropriate treatment (Burt et al 1998).

Learning Disability Practice. 4, 2, 8-11. doi: 10.7748/ldp2001.07.4.2.8.c1454

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