According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children with developmental disabilities has increased significantly over recent years. A study found that one in six children, or 17.8% of children, had a least one developmental disability in 2017. In 2009, the figure was at 16.2%.
The study examined data collected between 2009 and 2017 through the National Health Interview Survey. The survey is an in-person government poll that solicits information about different health-related topics from individuals across the country. Part of the survey asked parents if their children had one of ten different developmental disabilities. The data included 88,000 children aged 3 to 17. The study found that the prevalence of intellectual disability, autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder rose over the course of the survey.
Reasons for the Spike
There were some explanations for why there was a spike in children with a developmental disability. The National Health Interview Survey changed the wording of some of its questions regarding developmental disability, which may have had some impact on the responses. However, the increase in awareness and education about developmental disabilities seems to be a major contributing factor. There is a greater understanding of how these disabilities work, and more children are receiving the proper diagnoses. This was demonstrated by an increase in developmental disability diagnoses among boys, older children, children living in urban areas, and children with uneducated mothers. While in the past, many children with disabilities would go undiagnosed, there is now greater recognition of developmental disability.
The overall increase in the prevalence of developmental disabilities is a significant change. This means that there are now more children in the United States who need the necessary services to help them function in the community. Communities will have to invest more in providing the appropriate supports and services that these children need.
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