Tags: childhood | mental | disability | rates

Childhood Mental Disability Rates Up, Physical Disorders Down

By    |   Tuesday, 19 August 2014 09:26 AM

Childhood mental disability rates are on the rise according to a new report, while physical disabilities are on the decline.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that the new findings were discovered by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and published to the medical journal Pediatrics. Drawing on data from the U.S. National Health Interview Surveys, the study found that mental health disabilities rose 21 percent between 2001 and 2011. Physical disabilities declined by 12 percent.

"In this study, we found that physical disabilities are decreasing. This is a very positive finding. But the increase in disability due to neurodevelopmental and mental health problems is concerning," said study leader Amy Houtrow, chief of Children’s division of pediatric rehabilitation medicine.

"Our study can’t tell how or why this has occurred, but we have educated guesses."

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Houtrow said that shifts in the procedures taken in diagnosing disorders, known increases in autism, and more public awareness and de-stigmatization of mental disorders could be among the factors responsible for the increase.

"I think what the study does is set the stage to dig deeper — to look for the reasons for the trends," she concluded.

Kenneth W. Norwood Jr., chairman on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council of Children with Disabilities, illuminated how the study's findings could also be cause for concern.

"We have to be open to the real possibility that these increases in developmental and behavioral problems are truly increasing in frequency, and if that is the case, then we need to do some soul-searching," he said.

"I’m convinced it’s a little bit of both. We have better identification of these disorders, but some of these disorders are increasing in prevalence, and if you look at the data over the last couple of decades, increases in childhood anxiety have been occurring since World War II."

Examining the data on a more granular level, specific disorders increased, while other decreased, making coherent conclusions somewhat elusive.

According to Philly.com, ADHD increased 22 percent, while learning disabilities decreased by 13 percent, for example. Mental health disability rates also changed differently among richer and poorer families, with families earning roughly $90,000 or more seeing the greatest increase in reported disabilities, 29 percent.

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Childhood mental disability rates are on the rise according to a new report, while physical disabilities are on the decline.
childhood, mental, disability, rates
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 09:26 AM
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