Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Injury in young people with intellectual disability: descriptive epidemiology


Objectives—To assess the public health importance of injury in a representative sample of young people with intellectual disability relative to the general population.

Setting—This study forms part of the Australian Child and Adolescent Development (ACAD) program examining emotional and behavioural problems in a cohort of young people with intellectual disability (IQ<70). The program has collected extensive biopsychosocial data from carers of subjects at two time intervals, 1990 (n=579) and 1996 (n=465).

Method—Carer report of medically attended injury to subjects was collected for the first time during 1996 (age 5–29 years) and supplemented with medical record injury data from hospitals and general practitioners for 147 of the ACAD sample and 110 supplementary subjects. These data were compared with general population injury data to assess relative epidemiological differences.

Results—Annual injury mortality and morbidity rates were 150/100 000 and 55.6/1000 persons, with age standardised mortality and morbidity ratios of 8 and 2 respectively. Males and females had similar injury rates. The rate for injury hospitalisations was twice that of the general population. Falls were more common and transport injury and intentional injury less common causes of injury morbidity compared with general population. The patterns of cause, circumstances, and severity of injury in young people with intellectual disability have more similarities with younger children than with their same age group in the general population.

Conclusion—This study should alert clinicians and others to the increased risk for injury and possible further handicap in this population. It is essential that injury prevention programs be implemented and evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing the substantial additional burden of suffering, care and cost resulting from injury to young people with intellectual disability.

  • epidemiology
  • intellectual disability
  • mental retardation

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.