Survival rates of children with severe neurologic disabilities: a review

Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2003 Jun;10(2):120-9. doi: 10.1016/s1071-9091(03)00020-2.


Knowledge of accurate survival rates of children with neurologic disabilities is important for third-party insurance payers planning future medical expenses. This is of particular importance to pediatric skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) that depend on financial support from governmental sources. Eyman published survival rate results from California that were extremely pessimistic and not in keeping with our clinical impressions. This led us to conduct a thorough review of our survival rates, which were much better than those reported by Eyman. Since the publication of our study, a large number of reports have appeared from many different countries, as well as further information from California using an expanded database. The survival rate data that we obtained remain consistently better than that in most recent reports. In the California results, 10-year survival rates for the most-disabled group (group 1) were reported to be 32% in 1993 and 45% in 1998, compared with 73% in our study. Eight-year survival rates for group 1 from California were reported to be 38% in 1993 and 63% in 2000, compared with our finding of 73%. The reasons for our better survival rates include the fact that all of our patients were in SNFs, where prompt medical care for acute illnesses was always provided, whereas only 3.5% of the study group was in SNFs in California. Also, the California data contained many methodologic and statistical errors, which are reviewed here.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Child
  • Disabled Children
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / mortality*
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology