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Can you die from scoliosis?

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According to an article published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in June of 1981, the average age of death in an untreated scoliosis patient in 1948 was 49.3 years. Here is the direct quotation: “The age at death ranged from eighteen to seventy-seven years, with an average of 49.3 years.”

Upon further research, it can be determined that the average life expectancy of a US citizen in 1932 (the year the study began) was 61 years. The average life expectancy of a US citizen in 1948 (the year the study ended) was 67.2 years. This information is obtainable from official sources such as www.ss.gov. The average of the two is 64.1 years.

If the average life expectancy for someone born between 1932 and 1948 is 64.1 years, and the average life expectancy of one of the scoliosis patients followed in this study was 49.3 years, then scoliosis patients, on average, lived 14 years less than expected (64.1 minus 49.3 equals 14.8).

One article, “Natural History of Untreated Idiopathic Scoliosis after Skeletal Maturity,” by Ascani et al, makes the following statement:

“Regarding mortality, our results agree substantially with those of Nilsonne and Lungren and Nachemson. The mortality rate of 17%, within the first 50 years, is about twice as high as the mortality rate of the general Italian population between the ages of 20 and 50 years.”

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