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February 14, 1977

Prolonged Survival in a Patient With Down Syndrome

JAMA. 1977;237(7):673-675. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270340059023

MORE than a century ago, Langdon Down described a syndrome of mental retardation, congenital abnormalities, and characteristic facies that was usually associated with an early death. In recent years, however, several authors have noted that persons afflicted with this condition are living longer. The following case represents the oldest patient with Down syndrome reported to date and illustrates one of the most frequent causes of death in this disorder.

Report of a Case  The patient (Fig 1), aged 65 years, was born on May 26, 1903, and had never previously been hospitalized. She was admitted to the Youngstown Hospital Association on January 28, 1969, for the purpose of a medical examination prior to being placed in a state institution for the mentally retarded.The patient had no specific complaints, but her 90-year-old mother could no longer care for her adequately. Likewise, the mother feared that her own death was imminent and that