News & Commentary

Developmental disabilities for children and teens on the rise


The rate of developmental disabilities for children ages 3 to 17 in the United States rose from 5.76% in 2014 to 6.99% in 2016, according to the CDC. The prevalence of children who’d been diagnosed with a developmental delay other than autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability also increased from 3.57% to 4.55%.

Prevalence of children diagnosed with any developmental disability from 2014 to 2016

Prevalence of children diagnosed with any developmental disability from 2014 to 2016

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, NCHS Data Brief, No. 291, November 2017

Developmental disabilities are characterized by difficulties in one or more areas, including (but not limited to) learning, behavior, and self-care.

The authors of the National Center for Health Statistics data brief say that the uptick may be a result of improvements in screening for developmental delay, as well as a heightened awareness of the problem.

A smidgen of good news: The rate of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability diagnoses held steady during the same period.

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