Eyman et al1 make a substantial contribution to our understanding of the survival of people with profound disabilities and severe mental retardation. The grouping of patients into cohorts characterized by the presence of clinical findings is valuable in that it allows clinicians to counsel families more effectively as to the life expectancy of their loved ones and to assist in determining the appropriateness of health care interventions planned for these individuals. In considering the data included in the table of their report, we were struck by the apparent strength of the association between mortality and the presence of a feeding tube. We believe that this association, while briefly mentioned in Eyman et al, merits further consideration. The following discussion is intended to describe the association based on a statistical analysis of the data contained in their report and to suggest further lines of research using the database developed by
Kastner T, Criscione T, Walsh K. The Role of Tube Feeding in the Mortality of Profoundly Disabled People With Severe Mental Retardation. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148(5):537–538. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1994.02170050095022
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