Autism and ADHD On the Rise

By Shira Scott,

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 early 10 million kids diagnosed with one of the conditions, according to their parents.

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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.)

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