Prevalence of chronic medical conditions in adults with mental retardation: comparison with the general population.

We interviewed caregivers and reviewed medical records of 278 adults with mental retardation with and without Down syndrome, 45 to 74 years of age. Standardized morbidity ratios were used to compare frequency of medical disorders in these adults to frequency in the general population. In adults with mental retardation, the frequency of common age-related disorders was comparable to that in the general population, but there was an increased frequency of thyroid disorders, nonischemic heart disorders, and sensory impairment. Surveillance of health status and increased access to health care for screening and treatment of age-related disorders that are more frequent in adults with mental retardation would be important to prevent the development or delay the impact of these conditions and to promote healthy aging.