Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Childhood Mental Disability Rates Up, Study Finds

Childhood Mental Disability Rates Up, Study Finds

08/18/14

MONDAY, Aug. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of developmental and mental disabilities -- ranging from speech problems to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder -- have jumped 21 percent among U.S. children, according to a new report.

Overall, parent-reported disabilities rose 16 percent -- from almost 5 million children to about 6 million between 2001 and 2011, said study author Dr. Amy Houtrow, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh.

"We know that disabilities have been on the rise for decades," Houtrow said. Understanding the trends helps practitioners know where and how to better direct services, the study noted.

Children from poor families are more likely to have a disability than richer kids, but the surge in neurodevelopmental and mental troubles was most notable among wealthier families, the researchers found.

Although the study didn't look at why this is so, Houtrow said there is less stigma about getting help for a disability than in the past. She also speculated that wealthier families have better access to care.

A Florida pediatric neurologist agreed. Dr. Sayed Naqvi, of Miami Children's Hospital, said he's observed a surge in requested services for autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and speech delay. Many of those families have easy access to pediatric information on the Internet and a growing awareness that their kids can be helped, he said.

"The more affluent parents come prepared, they know what services are there," Naqvi said. "We spend a lot more time nowadays discussing [treatments]."

For the study, published online Aug. 18 in Pediatrics, Houtrow analyzed data from the U.S. National Health Interview Surveys taken in four time periods between 2001 and 2011.

Parents first reported if their child had a limitation or disability. Next, they chose from a list of limiting physical, developmental or mental health conditions.

Physical conditions included: asthma or breathing problems, vision problems, hearing problems, bone/joint/muscle problems, injury.

Mental/neurodevelopmental conditions included: epilepsy or seizures, speech problems, learning disability, ADHD, mental retardation, other mental/emotional/behavioral problems, and other developmental problems.

Autism spectrum disorders, now thought to affect one in 68 U.S. children, was not one of the specific developmental disorders that parents could report. "Autism probably would have been listed by the parent as either 'other developmental problem,' 'other mental, emotional or behavioral problem' or 'intellectual disability' (also referred to as mental retardation)," Houtrow said.

Birth defects or other impairment problems were considered unclassifiable conditions.

Physical disability cases declined almost 12 percent over the decade, the study authors noted.

Significant increases were reported in "other mental, emotional or behavioral problems," which rose 65 percent, and speech problems and mental retardation, each up 63 percent, Houtrow said.

While ADHD increased 22 percent, according to parent reports, learning disabilities dropped 13 percent, the investigators found.

Reports of asthma fell 24 percent, and hearing problems increased 16 percent, the findings showed.

Families earning $89,400 or more in 2011 had the greatest increase in reported disabilities -- nearly 29 percent, the study found. Households earning below the poverty level had a rise of about 11 percent.

Is it healthy or not to label kids as disabled? The study didn't address that, but Houtrow said that "a disability is a normal part of life. We should work to maximize a child's ability."

While there is still some stigma linked with disability, she said, the focus needs to be on understanding a child's limitation and making plans to overcome it.

"The disability doesn't just describe the limitation," she said. "It affects the [child's] interaction with the world."

Acknowledging it and making a plan, she said, "is better than ignoring it."

More information

For more on childhood disabilities, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse Hospital Appoints Chief Information Officer
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >