Cerebral palsy: why we must plan for survival.
The survival of children in the South East Thames region, born between 1970 and 1979 and diagnosed as having some form of cerebral palsy was investigated. Of the 732 children studied, 651 (90%) are still alive, and hence cerebral palsy must be regarded as a condition with which people live rather than a condition of which they die. Survival varies considerably among the different diagnostic groups: those suffering from spasic quadriplegia, dyskinetic and 'mixed' cerebral palsy are most severely affected. Our evidence suggests that, though immobility and severe mental subnormality are the strongest predictors of mortality in children with cerebral palsy, the majority of even the most severely affected patients survive to adulthood. It is therefore appropriate to plan for their survival by funding and evaluating programmes to maximise health, independence, and quality of life.