The Likelihood of Incontinence in Individuals With Down Syndrome

There is a significant chance, for both children and adults with Down syndrome, to develop incontinence, but it doesn’t have to impact their quality of life. By recognizing and properly treating the incontinence symptoms as soon as possible, your loved one can properly manage their fecal or urinary incontinence by making simple changes to their daily lives.

The Link Between Incontinence and Down Syndrome

One study, that had 317 participants with Down syndrome, assessed the rates of incontinence associated with adults, adolescents, and children found that incontinence was present in:

  • 64% of children
  • 10% of teens
  • 12% in adults ages 18 – 30
  • 22% in adults over the age of 30.

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    These staggering numbers allowed researchers to conclude that incontinence in those with Down syndrome is more prevalent in younger children between the ages of 4 to 12 and increases with age in adults. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals with Down syndrome receive screening for incontinence symptoms, so a proper treatment plan can be created, if needed.

    While incontinence in children with co-morbidities is often due to developmental delays instead of an underlying bladder or bowel issue, many children do not receive a comprehensive urinary or bowel assessment. This can cause the incontinence symptoms to worsen and can potentially cause damage to internal organs.

    Down syndrome symptoms include upper and lower urinary tract abnormalities, congenital malformations, gastric outlet obstruction, urinary tract infections (UTIs), metabolic issues, constipation, spinal cord abnormalities, and more. Studies also report that 77% of all individuals with Down syndrome have both structural and functional gastrointestinal abnormalities.

    As individuals with Down syndrome age, they have an increased risk of developing functional incontinence, which may be linked to their accelerated aging rate. Those with functional incontinence are aware of the need to urinate, but fail to make it to the restroom in time due to mental or physical disabilities.

    What You Can Do

    If your loved one with Down syndrome is showing signs of incontinence, make sure to speak with a healthcare provider to create a treatment plan and rule out other possible causes. In some cases, incontinence symptoms can be alleviated with pelvic floor muscle exercises, medications, surgery, or even something as simple as proactively preventing constipation. However, in other cases, incontinence can only be managed. Most state Medicaid plans will cover incontinence supplies if the healthcare provider deems them to be medically necessary. Fortunately, Down syndrome is a qualifying diagnosis for medical necessity of incontinence products.

    Tips for Supporting a Loved One with Incontinence

  • Be a source of understanding and support. Incontinence has the potential to be embarrassing. It can cause people to not want to go to school, work, or social activities.
  • Help them find properly fitting incontinence underwear. By working with an incontinence product supplier like Aeroflow Urology, your incontinence supplies can be shipped directly to your home to avoid the embarrassment of having to purchase products at your local store. Plus, your products may even be covered through your insurance.
  • Make sure your loved one maintains a healthy lifestyle. By eating healthier options and staying hydrated, individuals can better combat incontinence symptoms. It’s common for people to restrict fluid intake to avoid accidents, but that can lead to dehydration which can actually worsen symptoms. Caffeine and sugary beverages can also increase pressure on the bladder, which can in turn cause accidents.
  • How Aeroflow Urology Can Help

    By filling out our easy, 2-step qualification form, you’ll also be connected with one of our specially trained Continence Care Specialists to help with your loved one’s needs. They’ll check in on a monthly basis to see if they need to make any changes to their incontinence supplies, such as changing sizes or switching to more absorbent products. With a little extra daily planning, incontinence can be easily managed while maintaining your quality of life. Aeroflow Urology is here to help with all of your continence care needs.


    Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care from a healthcare professional. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.

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