The life expectancy of profoundly handicapped people with mental retardation is reported from the Lanterman Developmental Center, Pomona, CA. Data was collected on mortality for 99,543 persons with developmental disabilities who received services from the California Department of Developmental Services between March 1984 and October 1987. Immobile subjects had a much shorter life expectancy than those who could move about. Those who required tube feeding had a very short life expectancy (4-5 additional years). Those who could eat if fed by others had a life expectancy of approximately 8 additional years. Those who were mobile though not ambulatory had a life expectancy of about 23 additional years. [1]

COMMENT. The importance of mobility, toileting skills, and feeding skills to survival of the mentally retarded is confirmed by this study. Of all the variables examined, mobility was the best predictor of survival.