A new study suggests that babies born with Down syndrome are living longer -- once they survive the neonatal period -- but those born to African-American mothers are still less likely to reach adulthood than those born to white or Hispanic mothers. The population-based study analyzed records of 16,506 babies born with DS from 1983 to 2003. Overall survival at 1 month and 1, 5 and 20 years were 98%, 93%, 91% and 88%, respectively. Except for the neonatal period, survival rates improved modestly over time for all age points. Babies born at a very low weight were 24 times as likely to die during the neonatal period compared to those of normal weight, but the risk lessened with age. Babies born with heart defects were nearly five times as likely to die by age one and an increased risk continued through age 20. While racial disparities in mortality rates declined, particularly during infancy, the association between race and mortality increased with age.

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