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Childhood Disability Rates Continue to Rise

​Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of children with disabilities rose 16 percent.

The study, "Changing Trends of Childhood Disability, 2001–2011" appearing in the September 2014 issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 18) found that while there has been a decline in physical disabilities, there was a large increase in disabilities classified as neurodevelopmental or mental health in nature.

The largest increases were found among more advantaged families. Children living in families at or above 400 percent of the federal poverty level reported a 28.4 percent increase in disabilities over the 10-year period of the study. Researchers suggest that shifts in diagnostic criteria, overall increases in rates of certain problems including autism, increased awareness of these conditions and the need for a specific diagnosis to receive services such as early intervention may explain increased rates of disability related to neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions.

The authors conclude that documenting the changes in childhood disabilities is an important step in developing better prevention and treatment strategies and in determining how to create and deliver services to best meet the needs of all children.

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Published
8/18/2014 12:15 AM