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Two in five people with learning disabilities not diagnosed in childhood

Two out of five people with learning disabilities are not diagnosed in childhood and, even if they are, they will likely die before they collect their pension, according to a study commissioned by the NHS.

Researchers from the UCL Institute of Health Equity (IHE) found that people with learning disabilities will die 15 to 20 years sooner on average than the general population. That amounts to 1,200 people each year, a figure which chimes with the government’s own estimate. The IHE says it is not a consequence of the underlying condition that led to the learning disability but because they are being “catastrophically” failed by the government.

Prof Michael Marmot, IHE director, said: “This is a direct result of a political choice that destines this vulnerable group to experience some of the worst of what society has to offer: low incomes, no work, poor housing, social isolation and loneliness, bullying and abuse.

“A staggering 40% of people with learning difficulties aren’t even diagnosed in childhood. This is an avoidable sign of a society failing to be fair and supportive to its most vulnerable members. We need to change this. The time to act is now.”

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