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Effect of severity of disability on survival in north east England cerebral palsy cohort


AIMS To investigate the effect of motor and cognitive disabilities on the survival of people on the North of England Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Survey, and compare this with other published results.

METHODS The cerebral palsy cohort consists of 1960–1990 births in Northumberland, Newcastle, and North Tyneside health districts. Survival and cause of death were analysed in relation to data on birth, disabilities, and a unique measure of the impact of disability.

RESULTS Disability strongly influences survival. More than a third of those with a severe disability die before age 30. Fewer than a third of deaths are attributed to cerebral palsy on death certificates. Of those with severe cognitive disability, 63% live to age 35 (58% with severe ambulatory disability and 53% with severe manual disability), whereas at least 98% without severe disabilities live to age 35. The Lifestyle Assessment Score (LAS) allows a finer categorisation of impact of disability, and is strongly associated with survival: a ten point increase in LAS is associated with a doubling of the hazard rate. People who had LAS of at least 70, and had survived to age 5 have a 39% chance of dying before age 35.

CONCLUSIONS The majority of people with cerebral palsy attain adulthood. There appears to be more variation in survival rates associated with severe disability between regions of England, than between north east England, British Columbia, and California. Instantaneous risks of dying vary widely between England and California. This variation is not obviously attributable to differing rates of severe disability.

  • cerebral palsy
  • birth weight
  • cohort study
  • cognitive and motor disabilities
  • life expectancy
  • north east England

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health