Developmental delays on the rise

Developmental disabilities among children are on the rise, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that disabilities among children increased by 17 percent between 1997 and 2008.

They estimate that in the year 2008, the number of children with a developmental disability reached 10 million – or around 15%.

The study, “Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U.S. Children, 1997-2008,” in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online today, May 23), analyzed data on children aged 3 to 17 years from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households.

Parents were asked to report the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, learning disorders, and/or other developmental delays.

Study authors found the prevalence of any developmental disability increased by nearly 3% over the 12-year study period.

Among the disabilities on the rise were autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental delays.

Moderate to profound hearing loss showed a significant decline.

Boys had a higher prevalence overall and for a number of select disabilities compared with girls. Hispanic children had the lowest prevalence for a number of disabilities, and low-income families and families with public health insurance had a higher prevalence.

Study authors suggest the findings show the need for health, education and social services, including the need for more specialized health services that meet the needs of these children.

What do you do if you think your child may be developmentally delayed?

Consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s development, says the CDC. An additional resource, the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, lists early intervention programs by state.

For Arizona listings, check the NECTAC information listed here.

Read more on developmental delays and screening from the CDC.

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