March 1993

Survival of Profoundly Disabled People With Severe Mental Retardation

Author Affiliations

From the School of Education, University of California, Riverside (Dr Eyman and Mr Call); the Departments of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan Medical School (Dr Grossman); and UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, Mental Retardation Research Center at Lanterman Developmental Center, Pomona (Dr Chaney).

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(3):329-336. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160270091029

• Objective.  —To define further the association between survival and clinical disabilities in profoundly disabled people with mental retardation in an 11-year period.

Research Design.  —An 11-year follow-up study of the survival of six mutually exclusive subgroups. The presence of severe, profound, or suspected mental retardation and incontinence were considered in all individuals when forming the subgroups. Varying combinations of abilities in mobility, rolling, feeding, and arm-hand use were also considered.

Participants.  —Six subgroups of severely disabled subjects. Included were 128 248 of 155 851 persons who received services from the California Department of Developmental Services between January 1980 and March 1991.

Measurements/Main Results.  —Survival estimates for individuals who were immobile and could not roll over were short regardless of arm-hand use or feeding status, as were estimates for people who were tube fed. For individuals who could roll over, but were otherwise immobile, survival was relatively improved.

Conclusion.  —Individuals who are unable to move their extremities or bodies voluntarily or who require tube feeding have very shortened life expectancies.(AJDC. 1993;147:329-336)