Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US Children 1997-2008

Year Published: 

Developmental disorders among children in the U.S. increased in prevalence by 17.1 percent from 1997 to 2008, affecting an estimated 1.8 million more children than a decade before. Of all developmental disorders, autism showed the most growth, increasing 289 percent over the twelve-year time frame. During the same period, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased by 33 percent, while moderate to profound hearing loss, the only developmental disability to show improvement, decreased by 30.9 percent. In total, 15 percent of all children in the U.S. had some sort of developmental disability when last measured in 2008. Boys were more likely than girls to have a developmental disability and Hispanic children had a lower prevalence than other racial groups. The prevalence of developmental disabilities increased in all groups regardless of race or socio-economic status. Children from low-income families were more likely to have a developmental disability and those on Medicaid were nearly twice as likely to have a diagnosis. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzes data from 119,367 children ages 3 to 17 collected during National Health Survey Interviews. Parents or legal guardians were asked if their children had any of the following conditions: ADHD, autism, blindness, cerebral palsy, moderate to profound hearing loss, intellectual disability, learning disorders, seizures, stuttering/stammering, or any other developmental delay. The study authors conclude that the increased prevalence of developmental disorders demonstrated by the study underscores the heightened need for targeted health, education, and social services.

--IACC 2011 Summary of Advances in ASD Research