Epidemiology of Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), Hawaii, 1986–97




The live birth prevalence of Down syndrome is approximately 10 per 10,000 live births in the United States. Down syndrome prevalence has been reported to change over time and to vary by selected demographic factors.


Data from a population-based birth defects registry in Hawaii involving 363 Down syndrome cases delivered during 1986–97 were used to calculate overall prevalence and to investigate secular trends and differences by selected demographic factors.


The total (live birth, fetal death, and elective termination) prevalence was 14.74 per 10,000 live births and fetal deaths. The unadjusted live birth prevalence was 8.67 per 10,000 live births. The adjusted live birth (live births and proportion of elective terminations expected to have resulted in live births) prevalence was 12.59 per 10,000 live births. No significant secular trends were observed for either total prevalence (P = 0.688) or adjusted live birth prevalence (P = 0.604). The total Down syndrome prevalence per 10,000 live births was highest for Far East Asians (22.01), followed by whites (17.06), Filipinos (15.94), and Pacific Islanders (9.21). Prevalence per 10,000 births was higher in metropolitan Honolulu (18.57) than in the rest of Hawaii (14.15). After adjusting for maternal age, however, the differences within the demographic groups were not statistically significant.


The live birth prevalence of Down syndrome in Hawaii during 1986–97 was lower than reported in the literature. Prevalence did not change significantly over time. Any differences in prevalence by maternal race/ethnicity and place of residence appeared to result from differences in maternal age distribution. Teratology 65:207–212, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.