Instances of Childhood Disabilities on the Rise

Posted on May 17, 2013

Improvements and advances in medical care should be reducing the number of children suffering from disabilities, but this has not been the case. Our Omaha disability benefit attorneys were surprised to learn that the rate of disability among American children is actually increasing.

Researchers from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, presented their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC, on May 5. The doctors involved in the study analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They compared survey data from 2001-2002 and from 2009-2010; nearly 102,500 parents of children under the age of 18 participated in the surveys.

The parents were asked questions about their abilities and limitations of their children. If a child had limitations, parents were asked to identify the cause of the limitations. Disabilities were grouped into the three main categories:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Neurodevelopmental/mental health disabilities
  • Other

 

The study found that the prevalence of disability in children has increased by 16.3% between 2001-2202 and 2009-2010. In 2001-2002, approximately five million children were identified as having a disability. By 2009-2010, the number had increased to almost six million. What is surprising is that the rate of physical disabilities has decreased, while the rate of neurodevelopmental and mental health-related disabilities has more than increased. Lead author Amy J. Houtrow, MD, PhD, MPH, was not able to tell how much of the increase can be attributed to autism spectrum disorders. She and her team hope that further research will provide more answers.

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