The gross motor function and disabilities in children with cerebral palsy in southern Sweden were investigated and related to clinical features. The study covered the birth year period 1990-1993 and comprised 167 children, 145 of them born in Sweden and 22 born abroad. The clinical features and gross motor function were analysed at a mean age of 6.8 y. Clinical features were obtained from a continuing healthcare follow-up programme. Gross motor function was classified according to the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS). Walking independently was possible for 86% of the hemiplegic, 63% of the pure ataxic, 61% of the diplegic and 21% of the dyskinetic children. None of the tetraplegic children was able to walk. The classification of gross motor function revealed that 59% of the children were categorized into levels I and II (mildly disabled), 14% into level III (moderately disabled) and 27% into levels IV and V (severely disabled). Children born abroad were more severely disabled.
Conclusion: The standardized age-related classification system GMFCS enabled a specific description of gross motor function in relation to clinical features. Significant differences between GMFCS levels and subgroups of diagnosis, aetiology. intellectual capacity, epilepsy and visual impairment were found.