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U.S. Rates of Autism, ADHD Continue to Rise: Report
Date:5/23/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- One in six U.S. children now has a developmental disability such as autism, learning disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number appears to be on the rise. In 1997-1999, about 12.8 percent of kids were diagnosed with a developmental disability. That number rose to 15 percent in 2006-2008 -- or an additional 1.8 million U.S. children.

Much of the bump up in cases seems driven by rising rates of autism and ADHD, experts say.

"The most important message here is raising awareness of the importance of this as a health problem and one we need to address," said lead study author Coleen Boyle, director of the U.S. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "Children are our future, and many of these children can grow up to be very productive citizens, so we need to invest in programs to help facilitate their development."

Researchers used data from the 1997-2008 National Health Interview Surveys, an annual, nationally representative survey of U.S. households. The surveys asked parents of children aged 3 to 17 if their children had been diagnosed with ADHD, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, learning disorders and/or other developmental delays.

Nearly 10 million U.S. children had been diagnosed with one of those conditions in 2006-2008, according to parental reports.

Much of the increase is being driven by ADHD and autism diagnoses, Boyle said. About 7.6 percent of children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2006-2008, up from 5.7 percent in 1997-1999. About 0.74 percent of kids had received in autism diagnosis in 2006-2008, up from 0.19 percent in 1997-1999.

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