CDC Provides New Statistics on the Prevalence of Disability in Children

By Erin Linden, NACCHO Health and Disability Fellow

New findings were published on March 11, 2016 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that indicates significant associations of early childhood mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders (MBDDs) with socio-demographic factors and environmental influences. The report relies on statistics collected as part of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, a cross-sectional, nationally representative, random-digit–dialed telephone survey that collects information about U.S. children aged 18 and under. The survey includes indicators of child health and well-being, access to quality health care, family characteristics, and school and neighborhood environment.

Before the report, there was substantial variation in state estimates of the various factors associated with early childhood MBDDs. The most recent data collected from the survey indicates that the factors most strongly associated with MBDDs were fair or poor parental mental health, difficulty getting by on the family’s income, child care problems and lacking a medical home.

Rebecca Bitsko and colleagues of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said in the statement, “These data support the Institute of Medicine recommendation that resources directed toward improving health care and supporting families and communities are needed to prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, and promote healthy development among all young children. Such investments would require substantial collaboration across public health, pediatric, and other agencies responsible for providing services to children, but could yield widespread benefits for early childhood and lifelong health.”

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