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February 1993

Mortality and the Acquisition of Basic Skills by Children and Adults With Severe Disabilities

Author Affiliations

From the University of California, Riverside (Dr Eyman and Mr Call) and the University of California, Los Angeles, Mental Retardation Research Center, Lanterman Developmental Center, Pomona (Dr Olmstead); and the Departments of Pediatrics, Neurology, and Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor (Dr Grossman).

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(2):216-222. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160260106035

• Objective.  —To determine normative data on age-related probabilities of children with severe disabilities acquiring mobility or self-feeding skills, or dying during a 5-year follow-up period.

Research Design.  —A 5-year follow-up study of three mutually exclusive subgroups formed on the basis of severe, profound, or suspected levels of retardation and incontinence and the following combinations of feeding and mobility skills.

Participants.  —The sample was made up of 7836 children and adults distributed among the three subgroups being served in California between January 1981 and December 1985.

Measurements/Main Results.  —Subjects who were tubefed and immobile showed very little likelihood of becoming mobile or feeding themselves and had a high probability of death. Individuals who had some mobility experienced a better outcome.

Conclusions.  —After age 6 years, the most probable outcome for children who are immobile and cannot feed themselves is death or no improvement in self-help skills.(AJDC. 1993;147:216-222)

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