To determine the prevalence of dementia in an Irish sample of people with Down's syndrome (DS) and to examine associated clinical characteristics of dementia in this group. 285 people with DS (Age 35-74 years, mean age +/- SD 46.5 +/- 8.2 years) were included in this cross-sectional study. The diagnosis of dementia was made using modified DSMIV criteria. Cognitive tests used were the Down's syndrome Mental Status Examination (DSMSE), Test for Severe Impairment (TSI) and adaptive function was measured by the Daily Living Skills Questionnaire (DLSQ). The overall prevalence of dementia was 13.3%. The presence of dementia was associated with epilepsy, myoclonus, and head injury. The demented DS group were significantly older (n = 38, mean age 54.7 years SD +/- 7.5) than the non-demented (n = 246, mean age 45.6, SD +/- 7.3). The TSI and DLSQ had a satisfactory spread of scores without 'floor' or 'ceiling' effects in people with moderate and severe learning disability. Median scores in demented versus the non-demented groups were significantly different for each measure of function. Dementia had a prevalence of 13.3% and occurred at a mean age of 54.7 years. The combination of DLSQ score, age and presence of epilepsy were found to predict presence of dementia.
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