• anus;
  • imperforate;
  • congenital heart defect;
  • tracheoesophageal fistula;
  • independent living;
  • pediatrics


VACTERL association is a non-random association of birth defects, which may include anomalies of the vertebral column, limbs, kidneys, and heart; anal atresia; tracheoesophageal fistula; and esophageal atresia. The presence of two or more of the defects establishes the diagnosis. The aim of our study is to describe the functional independence of children with VACTERL association and compare the results to unaffected children. These results will enable clinicians to provide more realistic prognostic information to parents and families. We used the WeeFIM questionnaire to assess the functional skills of 23 patients who had been diagnosed with VACTERL association at Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, from June 1994 to June 2009. The total WeeFIM scores and sub-scores for three domains (self-care, mobility, and cognition) correlated significantly with age (P < 0.01). The scores were generally within the same range as those of unaffected Chinese children, although our subjects had slightly inferior scores on six items, including bowel, chair transfer, stairs, expression, social interaction, and problem solving. In conclusion, the daily functional skills of Taiwanese children with VACTERL association were similar to those of unaffected children. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.