One out of every six children in the United States is now diagnosed with a developmental or learning disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers looked at National Health Interview Surveys taken from 1997-1999 and from 2006-2008. The surveys asked parents if their children (ages 3-17) 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.
In 1997-1999, about 12.8 percent of children had a developmental or learning disability. By 2006-2008 that number had risen to 15% with nearly 10 million kids diagnosed with one of the conditions, according to their parents.
Experts say rising rates of autism and ADHD continue to drive the numbers higher.
About 7.6 percent of children were diagnosed with ADHD according to data from the 2006-2008 surveys. That's up from 5.7 percent from 1997-1999. About 0.74 percent were diagnosed wtih autism in 2006-2008 reports, up from 0.19 percent in 1997-1999.
According to researchers and other experts, the rise may be the result of greater awareness by parents, teachers and doctors. While past research has suggested a possible link to advanced parental age and/or fertility interventions, researchers say more study needs to be done in those areas.
(This study will be published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.)