Records of 2,444 deceased institutionalized persons with mental retardation were examined for etiologies, disabilities, causes of death, and life expectancies over 60 years. Participants at most risk tended to have prenatal etiology of brain damage, to be young, and have the lowest IQs, epilepsy, poor mobility and feeding skills, and more medical complications. Most mortality was from respiratory infections. Epilepsy was present in 57.2% but was rare in people with Down syndrome. Sudden death occurred in 22.2% of these deceased residents. Over the years generally more residents had prenatal etiology of mental retardation, lower IQ, epilepsy, and were nonambulatory and older when they died.
We are grateful to Carolyne Givens for assistance with gathering data.