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The influence of intellectual disability on life expectancy

Bittles, A.H., Petterson, B.A., Sullivan, S.G., Hussain, R., Glasson, E.J. and Montgomery, P.D. (2002) The influence of intellectual disability on life expectancy. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57 (7). M470-M472.

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Background. To date, relatively few representative data have been available to health planners and advocacy groups on the life expectancy of people with intellectual disability. A study of trends in the survival profiles of people with intellectual disability was undertaken to assist in the planning of appropriate medical and support services.

Methods. Since 1953, the Disability Services Commission of Western Australia has maintained a database of persons diagnosed with intellectual disability. The database was used to calculate survival probabilities on a total of 8724 individuals, 7562 of whom were still alive at the time of sampling in December 2000.

Results. Kaplan-Meier survival plots showed a strong negative association between severity of intellectual disability and survival, with median life expectancies of 74.0, 67.6, and 58.6 years for people with mild, moderate, and severe levels of handicap. Significant negative associations also were observed with male gender, Indigenous Australian parentage, and individuals diagnosed with a specific genetic disorder.

Conclusions. The findings indicate a major and expanding increase in the service requirements of this aging, intellectually disabled population during the past two generations.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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