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More Kids Diagnosed With Mental Health Disabilities, Study Finds
Date:5/6/2013

e, had difficulty walking without supports, had trouble with memory or had any other limitation.

"It's not enough to just have something like ADHD," she said. "You have to be limited somehow by that diagnosis."

The researchers found that nearly 6 million children were considered disabled at the end of the study. Children living in poverty had the highest rates of disability, although poor children didn't experience the largest increases in the incidence of disability during the study period.

Families with incomes 300 percent above the federal poverty level -- around $66,000 for a family of four -- had a 28 percent increase in children with disabilities. Families whose income levels exceeded the poverty level by 400 percent -- about $88,000 -- saw a 24 percent increase in the number of children with disabilities.

Houtrow said it wasn't clear exactly why this was the case, and the researchers suspect increases in neurodevelopmental disorders may be behind the rise.

In children under 6 years old, the trend was most evident, with almost double the rate of neurodevelopmental disorders -- 36 cases per 1,000 children up from 19 a decade earlier.

The increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is likely one of the explanations, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park.

Autism spectrum disorders involve impaired communication, social interactions and repetitive behaviors, and can range from mild, as in Asperger's syndrome, to full-blown autism. The CDC estimates that one in 88 children now has a form of autism.

"Even though the study found some differences in disability rates for different socioeconomic status, I would urge any parent who has a concern about their children to discuss it with their child's pediatrician," Adesman said.

Houtrow agreed.

"The condition your child has matte
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