The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is acknowledging for the first time that COVID-19 poses an especially high risk for people with Down syndrome.

The federal agency updated its list of conditions that carry an “increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19” in late December to include Down syndrome.

“Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death,” the CDC said.

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That makes Down syndrome one of a dozen conditions — including cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity and pregnancy — that the CDC specifically warns have been linked to an increased risk from the virus.

The agency also maintains a separate list of conditions that “might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.”

“We are learning more about COVID-19 every day,” the CDC indicated. “The below list of underlying medical conditions is not exhaustive and only includes conditions with sufficient evidence to draw conclusions; it is a living document that may be updated at any time, subject to potentially rapid change as the science evolves.”

The CDC said that the addition of Down syndrome to the “increased risk” list came in response to recent data. People with the chromosomal disorder should talk to their health care provider about their individual risk in light of their medical history and the situation in their community, the agency said.

Research published in the fall that was based on a review of medical records for 8.26 million adults in England found that people with Down syndrome were four times more likely than others to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to die from the virus.

A handful of other studies in recent months have provided additional evidence that individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities face a higher risk of death from COVID-19.

As a result, disability advocates have been pushing states to prioritize people with developmental disabilities in their vaccine distribution plans. But a December report from the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, which represents disability service providers across the nation, found that only 10 states had specifically addressed those with developmental disabilities in their plans.

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