condition, impairment, functional limitation, or disability and thereby yield estimates of the probability or risk of these events. Most existing data, however, provide information only on prevalence, not incidence. Prevalence is the net result of changes in incidence and the duration of time a person has a condition. Duration is determined by rates of recovery and mortality. When one compares population groups, only incidence data provide a clear picture of how risks differ among populations. Prevalence data, on the other hand, reflect not only these risks but also differences in rates of recovery and mortality. Thus populations with equal risks of developing

TABLE 3-2 Risk Factors in Chronic Disease and Disability

Risk Factor

Some Related Conditions


Lung cancer






Other respiratory diseases


Coronary artery disease


Burns (especially home fires)

Alcohol abuse

Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents, especially head injuries and pedestrian injuries




Fetal alcohol syndrome

Lack of prenatal care

Mental retardation


Cerebral palsy


Congenital heart abnormalities (via rubella)


Various congenital anomalies (e.g., through failure to control blood sugar in pregnant diabetic women)


Other developmental disabilities

Socioeconomic status

Low birthweight




Coronary heart disease


Lung cancer






Diabetes mellitus


Cervical cancer

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