A new study to be published in the September issue of Pediatrics Journal indicates that while children with physicial disabilities has declined by 12%, the number of children living with neurodevelopmental or mental health problems has increased by 21% in the last 10 years. The research showed that children living in poverty maintained the highest percentage of childhood disability rates, but children living in households with income levels 4 times the federal poverty level experienced the largest increase in disability rate (28.4%). Children living in households below the poverty line experienced only a 10.7% increase.
The reasons behind the results are unclear. Amy Houltrow, lead study author from the Departments of Physical Medicine and Pediatrics and the University of Pittsburgh, suggests a decline in the stigma surrounding mental health conditions as well as an increase in parental awareness is likely to have influenced the results.
Decades ago, a child might have had substantial cognitive disabilities and abnormal behaviors that didn’t get diagnosed as something specific, and now that we’re understanding the neurobiology around autism, more children are being classified that way.”
Another often cited reason behind an increase in neurodevelopment and/or mental health diagnoses is the hyper-sensitivity of our society to such things. A popular controversial issue in the last decade has been the over diagnoses and subsequent medication of children with Attension Deficit Disorder (ADD). Whether or not this is the case, advocacy for mental health and neurodevelopmental issues has made strides, allowing the public to more openly seek help and start a conversation.
Read more here- “Childhood Disabilities Have Increased by 21 Percent: Study Confirms,” (Kathleen Lees, Science World Report)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.